Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Bleeding Obviouser 

You knew it, we knew it; the Straussians in the Pentagon knew it; even William Safire knew it (we'll bet). Anyone who bothers to read an occasional paper knew it. Many millions of credulous Americans are voluntarily excluded from that category, alas -- so let's hope that the latest findings of the 9/11 panel, which directly contradict yesterday's roundelay of lies from the White House, will be trumpeted far and wide. From the Washington Post, courtesy of Zemblan patriot B.K.:
There is "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks on the United States, according to a new staff report released this morning by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Although Osama bin Laden briefly explored the idea of forging ties with Iraq in the mid-1990s, the terrorist leader was hostile to Hussein's secular government, and Iraq never responded to requests for help in providing training camps or weapons, the panel found in the first of two reports issued today.

The findings come in the wake of statements Monday by Vice President Cheney that Iraq had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda, and comments by President Bush yesterday backing up that assertion.

The commission issued its report on al Qaeda's history at the start of a two-day round of hearings this morning. In a separate report on the planning and deliberations for the Sept. 11 plot, the panel cited numerous pieces of FBI evidence in concluding that ringleader Mohamed Atta never met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 9, 2001, as Cheney and some other Bush administration officials have alleged . . . .

The report on al Qaeda's history said the government of Sudan, which gave sanctuary to al Qaeda from 1991 to 1996, persuaded bin Laden to cease supporting anti-Hussein forces and "arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda." But the contacts did not result in any cooperation, the panel said.

"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan [in 1996], but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the report says. "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."
CIA and FBI officials confirmed in sworn testimony before the panel that the findings of the staff report were accurate.

Question: will the President send Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld round to the offices of the 9/11 commission with instructions to "do it again"?

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