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Friday, June 18, 2004

Helpin' a Brotha Out 

The release of the 9/11 Commission findings must've jogged Soulful Vlad Putin's memory. Just this morning the Russian President suddenly remembered warning U.S. intelligence -- on multiple occasions, yet! -- that Saddam Hussein was planning terrorist acts on American soil. In a remarkable development, Putin's claim seems to have aroused mild skepticism among our friends in the Fourth Estate:
Putin's remarks looked certain to help President Bush, but officials at the State Department expressed surprise, saying they knew of no such information from Russia.

Putin said Russian intelligence had been told on several occasions that Saddam's special forces were preparing to attack U.S. targets inside and outside the United States.

"After the events of September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing 'terrorist acts' on the United States and beyond its borders," he told reporters.

"This information was passed on to our American colleagues," he said. He added, however, that Russian intelligence had no proof that Saddam's agents had been involved in any particular attack.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters he did not know anything about the information that Putin said Russia passed on. No such information was communicated from Russia through the State Department, he said.

"Everybody's scratching their heads," said one State Department official, who asked not to be named . . . .

Putin's remarks were all the more unusual since Russia had diplomatic relations with Saddam's Iraq and sided with France and Germany in opposing the invasion.
UPDATE: Whoops! Looks like Kevin Drum of Political Animal got there firstest with the mostest. Apropos of this quote from Kim Murphy, Moscow correspondent for the L.A. Times --
In a move whose timing is widely seen in Russian political circles as an attempt to support Bush's reelection, Putin said Russian agents received information after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that Iraqi agents were plotting strikes against other U.S. targets, both at home and abroad.
-- Drum quite understandably wonders, "Why do Russian political circles think that Vladimir Putin wants George Bush to win reelection? And if they're right, why does Vladimir Putin want George Bush to win reelection?"

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