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Gold9472
11-22-2005, 07:54 PM
Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel

http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2005/1122nj1.htm

(Gold9472: OF COURSE there's no evidence Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. There is, however, PLENTY of evidence against the Bush Administration.)

By Murray Waas, special to National Journal
National Journal Group Inc.
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005

Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The administration has refused to provide the Sept. 21 President's Daily Brief, even on a classified basis, and won't say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.

The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the "President's Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public statements by foreign leaders.

One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Much of the contents of the September 21 PDB were later incorporated, albeit in a slightly different form, into a lengthier CIA analysis examining not only Al Qaeda's contacts with Iraq, but also Iraq's support for international terrorism. Although the CIA found scant evidence of collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the agency reported that it had long since established that Iraq had previously supported the notorious Abu Nidal terrorist organization, and had provided tens of millions of dollars and logistical support to Palestinian groups, including payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

The highly classified CIA assessment was distributed to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the president's national security adviser and deputy national security adviser, the secretaries and undersecretaries of State and Defense, and various other senior Bush administration policy makers, according to government records.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.

Indeed, the existence of the September 21 PDB was not disclosed to the Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004, according to congressional sources. Both Republicans and Democrats requested then that it be turned over. The administration has refused to provide it, even on a classified basis, and won't say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.

On November 18, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said he planned to attach an amendment to the fiscal 2006 intelligence authorization bill that would require the Bush administration to give the Senate and House intelligence committees copies of PDBs for a three-year period. After Democrats and Republicans were unable to agree on language for the amendment, Kennedy said he would delay final action on the matter until Congress returns in December.

The conclusions drawn in the lengthier CIA assessment-which has also been denied to the committee-were strikingly similar to those provided to President Bush in the September 21 PDB, according to records and sources. In the four years since Bush received the briefing, according to highly placed government officials, little evidence has come to light to contradict the CIA's original conclusion that no collaborative relationship existed between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

"What the President was told on September 21," said one former high-level official, "was consistent with everything he has been told since-that the evidence was just not there."

In arguing their case for war with Iraq, the president and vice president said after the September 11 attacks that Al Qaeda and Iraq had significant ties, and they cited the possibility that Iraq might share chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons with Al Qaeda for a terrorist attack against the United States.

Democrats in Congress, as well as other critics of the Bush administration, charge that Bush and Cheney misrepresented and distorted intelligence information to bolster their case for war with Iraq. The president and vice president have insisted that they unknowingly relied on faulty and erroneous intelligence, provided mostly by the CIA.

The new information on the September 21 PDB and the subsequent CIA analysis bears on the question of what the CIA told the president and how the administration used that information as it made its case for war with Iraq.

The central rationale for going to war against Iraq, of course, was that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons, and that he was pursuing an aggressive program to build nuclear weapons. Despite those claims, no weapons were ever discovered after the war, either by United Nations inspectors or by U.S. military authorities.

Much of the blame for the incorrect information in statements made by the president and other senior administration officials regarding the weapons-of-mass-destruction issue has fallen on the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

In April 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a bipartisan report that the CIA's prewar assertion that Saddam's regime was "reconstituting its nuclear weapons program" and "has chemical and biological weapons" were "overstated, or were not supported by the underlying intelligence provided to the Committee."

The Bush administration has cited that report and similar findings by a presidential commission as evidence of massive CIA intelligence failures in assessing Iraq's unconventional-weapons capability.

Bush and Cheney have also recently answered their critics by ascribing partisan motivations to them and saying their criticism has the effect of undermining the war effort. In a speech on November 11, the president made his strongest comments to date on the subject: "Baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will." Since then, he has adopted a different tone, and he said on his way home from Asia on November 21, "This is not an issue of who is a patriot or not."

In his own speech to the American Enterprise Institute yesterday, Cheney also changed tone, saying that "disagreement, argument, and debate are the essence of democracy" and the "sign of a healthy political system." He then added: "Any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped, or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false."

Although the Senate Intelligence Committee and the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 commission, pointed to incorrect CIA assessments on the WMD issue, they both also said that, for the most part, the CIA and other agencies did indeed provide policy makers with accurate information regarding the lack of evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

But a comparison of public statements by the president, the vice president, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld show that in the days just before a congressional vote authorizing war, they professed to have been given information from U.S. intelligence assessments showing evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link.

"You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," President Bush said on September 25, 2002.

The next day, Rumsfeld said, "We have what we consider to be credible evidence that Al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts with Iraq who could help them acquire … weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities."

The most explosive of allegations came from Cheney, who said that September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, the pilot of the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center, had met in Prague, in the Czech Republic, with a senior Iraqi intelligence agent, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, five months before the attacks. On December 9, 2001, Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press: "[I]t's pretty well confirmed that [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in [the Czech Republic] last April, several months before the attack."

Cheney continued to make the charge, even after he was briefed, according to government records and officials, that both the CIA and the FBI discounted the possibility of such a meeting.

Credit card and phone records appear to demonstrate that Atta was in Virginia Beach, Va., at the time of the alleged meeting, according to law enforcement and intelligence officials. Al-Ani, the Iraqi intelligence official with whom Atta was said to have met in Prague, was later taken into custody by U.S. authorities. He not only denied the report of the meeting with Atta, but said that he was not in Prague at the time of the supposed meeting, according to published reports.

In June 2004, the 9/11 commission concluded: "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between Al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."

Regarding the alleged meeting in Prague, the commission concluded: "We do not believe that such a meeting occurred."

Still, Cheney did not concede the point. "We have never been able to prove that there was a connection to 9/11," Cheney said after the commission announced it could not find significant links between Al Qaeda and Iraq. But the vice president again pointed out the existence of a Czech intelligence service report that Atta and the Iraqi agent had met in Prague. "That's never been proved. But it's never been disproved," Cheney said.

The following month, July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in its review of the CIA's prewar intelligence: "Despite four decades of intelligence reporting on Iraq, there was little useful intelligence collected that helped analysts determine the Iraqi regime's possible links to al-Qaeda."

End Part I

Gold9472
11-22-2005, 07:55 PM
One reason that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld made statements that contradicted what they were told in CIA briefings might have been that they were receiving information from another source that purported to have evidence of Al Qaeda-Iraq ties. The information came from a covert intelligence unit set up shortly after the September 11 attacks by then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith.

Feith was a protégé of, and intensely loyal to, Cheney, Rumsfeld, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, and Cheney's then-chief of staff and national security adviser, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. The secretive unit was set up because Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Libby did not believe the CIA would be able to get to the bottom of the matter of Iraq-Al Qaeda ties. The four men shared a long-standing distrust of the CIA from their earlier positions in government, and felt that the agency had failed massively by not predicting the September 11 attacks.

At first, the Feith-directed unit primarily consisted of two men, former journalist Michael Maloof and David Wurmser, a veteran of neoconservative think tanks. They liked to refer to themselves as the "Iraqi intelligence cell" of the Pentagon. And they took pride in the fact that their office was in an out-of-the-way cipher-locked room, with "charts that rung the room from one end to the other" showing the "interconnections of various terrorist groups" with one another and, most important, with Iraq, Maloof recalled in an interview.

They also had the heady experience of briefing Rumsfeld twice, and Feith more frequently, Maloof said. The vice president's office also showed great interest in their work. On at least three occasions, Maloof said, Samantha Ravich, then-national security adviser for terrorism to Cheney, visited their windowless offices for a briefing.

But neither Maloof nor Wurmser had any experience or formal training in intelligence analysis. Maloof later lost his security clearance, for allegedly failing to disclose a relationship with a woman who is a foreigner, and after allegations that he leaked classified information to the press. Maloof said in the interview that he has done nothing wrong and was simply being punished for his controversial theories. Wurmser has since been named as Cheney's Middle East adviser.

In January 2002, Maloof and Wurmser were succeeded at the intelligence unit by two Naval Reserve officers. Intelligence analysis from the covert unit later served as the basis for many of the erroneous public statements made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others regarding the alleged ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, according to former and current government officials. Intense debates still rage among longtime intelligence and foreign policy professionals as to whether those who cited the information believed it, or used it as propaganda. The unit has since been disbanded.

Earlier this month, on November 14, the Pentagon's inspector general announced an investigation into whether Feith and others associated with the covert intelligence unit engaged in "unauthorized, unlawful, or inappropriate intelligence activities." In a statement, Feith said he is "confident" that investigators will conclude that his "office worked properly and in fact improved the intelligence product by asking good questions."

The Senate Intelligence Committee has also been conducting its own probe of the Pentagon unit. But as was first disclosed by The American Prospect in an article by reporter Laura Rozen, that probe had been hampered by a lack of cooperation from Feith and the Pentagon.

Internal Pentagon records show not only that the small Pentagon unit had the ear of the highest officials in the government, but also that Rumsfeld and others considered the unit as a virtual alternative to intelligence analyses provided by the CIA.

On July 22, 2002, as the run-up to war with Iraq was underway, one of the Naval Reserve officers detailed to the unit sent Feith an e-mail saying that he had just heard that then-Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz wanted "the Iraqi intelligence cell to prepare an intel briefing on Iraq and links to al-Qaida for the SecDef" and that he was not to tell anyone about it.

After that briefing was delivered, Wolfowitz sent Feith and other officials a note saying: "This was an excellent briefing. The Secretary was very impressed. He asked us to think about possible next steps to see if we can illuminate the differences between us and CIA. The goal was not to produce a consensus product, but rather to scrub one another's arguments."

On September 16, 2002, two days before the CIA produced a major assessment of Iraq's ties to terrorism, the Naval Reserve officers conducted a briefing for Libby and Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser to President Bush.

In a memorandum to Wolfowitz, Feith wrote: "The briefing went very well and generated further interest from Mr. Hadley and Mr. Libby." Both men, the memo went on, requested follow-up material, most notably a "chronology of Atta's travels," a reference to the discredited allegation of an Atta-Iraqi meeting in Prague.

In their presentation, the naval reserve briefers excluded the fact that the FBI and CIA had developed evidence that the alleged meeting had never taken place, and that even the Czechs had disavowed it.

The Pentagon unit also routinely second-guessed the CIA's highly classified assessments. Regarding one report titled "Iraq and al-Qaeda: Interpreting a Murky Relationship," one of the Naval Reserve officers wrote: "The report provides evidence from numerous intelligence sources over the course of a decade on interactions between Iraq and al-Qaida. In this regard, the report is excellent. Then in its interpretation of this information, CIA attempts to discredit, dismiss, or downgrade much of this reporting, resulting in inconsistent conclusions in many instances. Therefore, the CIA report should be read for content only-and CIA's interpretation ought to be ignored."

This same antipathy toward the CIA led to the events that are the basis of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity, according to several former and current senior officials.

Ironically, the Plame affair's origins had its roots in Cheney and Libby's interest in reports that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger to build a nuclear weapon. After reading a Pentagon report on the matter in early February 2002, Cheney asked the CIA officer who provided him with a national security briefing each morning if he could find out about it.

Without Cheney's knowledge, his query led to the CIA-sanctioned trip to Niger by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband, to investigate the allegations. Wilson reported back to the CIA that the allegations were most likely not true.

Despite that conclusion, President Bush, in his State of the Union address in 2003, included the Niger allegation in making the case to go to war with Iraq. In July 2003, after the war had begun, Wilson publicly charged that the Bush administration had "twisted" the intelligence information to make the case to go to war.

Libby and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove told reporters that Wilson's had been sent to Niger on the recommendation of his wife, Plame. In the process, the leaks led to the unmasking of Plame, the appointment of Fitzgerald, the jailing of a New York Times reporter for 85 days, and a federal grand jury indictment of Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly attempting to conceal his role in leaking Plame's name to the press.

The Plame affair was not so much a reflection of any personal animus toward Wilson or Plame, says one former senior administration official who knows most of the principals involved, but rather the direct result of long-standing antipathy toward the CIA by Cheney, Libby, and others involved. They viewed Wilson's outspoken criticism of the Bush administration as an indirect attack by the spy agency.

Those grievances were also perhaps illustrated by comments that Vice President Cheney himself wrote on one of Feith's reports detailing purported evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. In barely legible handwriting, Cheney wrote in the margin of the report:

"This is very good indeed … Encouraging … Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA."

-- Murray Waas is a Washington-based writer and frequent contributor to National Journal. Several of his previous stories are also available online.

End

Gold9472
11-23-2005, 12:18 AM
Report: 9/11-Iraq link refuted days after attack
Magazine says administration refused to give key docs to Senate committee

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10164478/

Updated: 7:09 p.m. ET Nov. 22, 2005

Ten days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Bush was advised that U.S. intelligence found no credible connection linking the attacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein, or evidence suggesting linkage between Saddam and the al-Qaida terrorist network, according to a published report.

The report, published Tuesday in The National Journal, cites government records, as well as present and former officials with knowledge of the issue. The information in the story, written by National Journal contributor Murray Waas, points to an abiding administration concern for secrecy that extended to keeping information from the Senate committee charged with investigating the matter.

In one of the Journal report's more compelling disclosures, Saddam is said to have viewed al-Qaida as a threat, rather than a potential ally.

Presidential brief
The president's daily brief, or PDB, for Sept. 21, 2001, was prepared at the request of President Bush, the Journal reported, who was said to be eager to determine whether any linkage between the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraqi regime existed.

And a considerable amount of the Sept. 21 PDB found its way into a longer, more detailed Central Intelligence Agency assessment of the likelihood of an al-Qaida-Iraq connection.

The Journal story reports that that assessment was released to Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other senior policy-makers in the Bush administration.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested from the White House the detailed CIA assessment, as well as the Sept. 21 PDB and several other PDBs, as part of the committee's continuing inquiry into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the months before the start of the war with Iraq in March 2003.

The Bush administration has refused to surrender these documents.

Indeed, the Journal story reported, citing congressional sources, "the existence of the September 21 PDB was not disclosed to the Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004."

Long-alleged connection
After Sept. 11, the administration insisted that a connection existed between Iraq and al-Qaida. President Bush, in an October 2002 speech in Cincinnati, said the United States had "learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and gas."

And Vice President Cheney, in a September 2003 appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," alleged there was "a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida that stretched back through most of the decade of the "90s."

But the National Journal report said that the few believable reports of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida "involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group."

Saddam considered al-Qaida "as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime," the Journal reported. "At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks" of al-Qaida with Iraqi intelligence operatives as a way to get more information about how the organization worked, the Journal said.

Journal: Little has changed
The Journal story asserts that little has changed to refute the initial absence of information linking Saddam and the al-Qaida network.

"In the four years since Bush received the briefing, according to highly placed government officials, little evidence has come to light to contradict the CIA's original conclusion that no collaborative relationship existed" between Iraq and al-Qaida, the Journal reported.

Reporter Waas quotes one former administration official, whose assessment is a problematic contradiction of the administration's longstanding assertions:

"What the President was told on September 21 was consistent with everything he has been told since - that the evidence was just not there."

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive

Gold9472
11-23-2005, 07:35 PM
"We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens (http://www.yourbbsucks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2650)"

George W. Bush, June 18th, 2005.

Gold9472
11-23-2005, 07:55 PM
9/11 Lies: Another Basis for Impeachment

http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2005/11/911-lies-another-basis-for-impeachment.html

11/22/2005

"Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda".

And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed and continue to claim that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.

The 9-11 lies are just as important a grounds for impeachment as lies regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Why? Because the administration's false claims about Saddam and 9/11 helped convince a large portion of the American public to invade Iraq. While the focus now may be on false WMD claims, it is important to remember that, at the time, the Saddam-911 link was at least as important in many people's minds as a reason to invade Iraq.

Moreover, the trauma of September 11, 2001 is what galvanized many Americans to rally around the Bush administration in general, to close ranks in time of peril, and to give Bush his "mandate" (putting questions of election fraud to the side). Ever since that terrible day, the American people have been terrified, and thus irrational, based upon the trauma of the vicious attacks. Since most Americans believe that the bad guys are "out there" and are about to get us unless we have a strong leader to fight them, they will not and CANNOT make any logical decisions about any other foreign or domestic issues until "we get the bad guys".

Indeed, the WMD hoax probably would not have worked if it wasn't for the anti-Arab hysteria after September 11th. And the government policy of torture would not have been tolerated if we weren't misled into thinking that Saddam and Al-Qaeda had formed an unholy, all-powerful alliance on 9/11, and had to be stopped at any costs. Thus, I would argue that the Saddam-911 deception was necessary a precursor to the administration's WMD lies and torture policies.

Imagine, if you would, that you were a citizen in Germany right after the Reichstag fire had occurred. As you might know, the Reichstag fire was the burning down of the German parliament building by Hitler's men, which was then blamed on the communists in order to justify wars against neighboring countries. Do you believe you could have stopped the government from torturing communists after the Reichstag fire, by convincing people that Germans are a good people who do not torture others? Do you think that you could have prevented the spread of disinformation about the hostile intentions and military capabilities of ther countries? I believe not, not without first exposing that the Reichstag fire - the single thing which allowed the German parliament and other institutions to hand Hitler total power. The German's were in shock, and rallied around their "strong" leader.

Similarly, Americans are crazed by the fear of Arab terrorists just like Germans were terrified of communist terrorists. Both peoples have handed over all of their power to their leaders in order to buy an imaginary security.

The Nazis might have been brought to justice well before the Nuremberg trials if the Reichstag hoax had been exposed at the time.

But Can They Really Be Impeached for 9/11 Lies?

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark has stated that "Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda and concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment to create a climate of fear and hatred and destroy opposition to his war goals" is grounds for impeachment (see paragraph 10) and see paragraph 7 here.

Lying about Saddam's connection to 9/11 may thus be an impeachable offense.

This article does not discuss the evidence that elements of the U.S. government actually carried out or aided and abetted the 9/11 attacks themselves. However, if articles of impeachment were filed concerning the administration's lies about 9/11, then the truth of who actually carried out the 9/11 attacks would be relevant, and a door opened to examine such evidence.

Gold9472
11-23-2005, 11:38 PM
White House: Iraq-Qaeda Ties Exist

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/06/16/politics/main623568.shtml

(Gold9472: Lies, Lies, Lies...)

(CBS) By David Paul Kuhn,
NEW YORK, June 16, 2004

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said on Wednesday there is "no credible link" between Iraq and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, just days after Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertion that Saddam Hussein had "long established" ties with al Qaeda.

Sometimes reality matters less than perception.

For nearly two years, President Bush and senior administration officials claimed links between Saddam and al Qaeda while allowing the impression that Iraq could have been behind the Sept. 11 attacks – an impression that could have lent support to the war in Iraq.

The administration never outright said Saddam directed or contributed to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, just that the now fallen Iraqi dictator supported terrorists, as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has put it.

"It is always difficult to prove a negative. Can you prove there was no al Qaeda in Iraq? What you can say is there is no proof of the positive," said James Dobbins, the first special envoy for Afghanistan during the Bush administration and current director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation.

"There is al Qaeda in Indonesia, Canada, Saudi Arabia. Were there al Qaeda in Iraq from time to time? Probably. It would be surprising if there hadn't been," he continued. "Was there any substantial degree of complicity by the Iraqi regime? The answer is there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to that affect."

In September 2003, for the first time, President Bush stated explicitly that, "we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11th." But he stood by claims that Iraq and al Qaeda had ties. "There is no question," he added.

There is certainly is some question now, according to the bipartisan commission.

The panel disclosed Wednesday that "Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded."

The commission added that while there has been "reports" that "contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida also occurred," any possible contacts "do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship."

Vice President Dick Cheney has led the administration's charge on the Iraq-al Qaeda ties, repeatedly stating that Sept. 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta met with Iraqi agents in Prague only months prior to the attacks.

The CIA and FBI have refuted those claims, citing lack of evidence and even some indications that Atta was in Florida at the time of the alleged Prague meeting.

Asked Tuesday about Cheney's latest comments, President Bush said Tuesday that "the best evidence of connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda" is Musab al Zarqawi, an alleged al Qaeda operative said to be behind many of the recent insurgent attacks in Iraq.

But Zarqawi's role began after the war in Iraq started, after dozens of assertions of ties by the Bush administration.

A Washington Post poll in August 2003 found that 69 percent of Americans believed Iraq was "likely" behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I think that it was an easy assumption for the American public to make and a hard one for them to give up on because the al Qaeda people come from that same dangerous part of the world and they shared a hatred of America with Saddam Hussein and that is the linkage in the minds," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

"Part of it is the natural inclination of the American public post 9/11," he added. "I mean there are lots of ideas you can't get across to people no matter how hard you push them."

Kohut, a pollster by training, said his organization found that "for the American people," in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, "the most important reason for thinking about taking on Iraq was seeing it as part of the war on terrorism."

President Bush continues to bank his presidency on the war in Iraq being one and the same with the war on terror, absent any link between Saddam and terror attacks on the United States.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry asserts that the Bush administration "misled" Americans when making the case for the war in Iraq.

Kerry states that no weapons of mass destruction - the administration's primary justification for war - have been found in Iraq. But he also speaks to an atmosphere that associated Iraq with the Sept. 11 attacks. Whether a voter agrees with this association is a key indicator of whether he or she will support Kerry or Mr. Bush on Election Day.

"The administration argument was that 9/11 demonstrated that there are people out there who are more than willing to... inflict mass casualties," Dobbins said. "Evidence also suggests that these people are looking to improve their capacity to inflict mass casualties through the acquisition of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons technology," he continued, summarizing the Bush administration argument.

"So if you are going to make a demonstrative effort to demonstrate to the world that that kind of behavior doesn't pay, Iraq was arguably a good place to start," he added. "Not because it was the most culpable but because it was culpable and it was the most vulnerable... The argument is not that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11, the argument was there was a connection between 9/11 and Iraq."

By David Paul Kuhn
©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Gold9472
04-16-2006, 10:03 PM
bump

AuGmENTor
12-08-2007, 10:06 PM
Nice that my obscure post brought your brain here. (But I win...)