Sunday, November 20, 2005
Hey, Wolfie -- you're talkin' to one!
BLITZER: All right. Let's go to the next sound byte. Listen to what you said on September 26, 2002, several months before the war. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaida members, including some that have been in Baghdad. We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade and of possible chemical and biological agent training. When I say contacts, I mean between Iraq and Al Qaida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was a mistake?
RUMSFELD: No. Zarqawi was in there. It was clearly -- there clearly were Al Qaida in and around Iraq.
BLITZER: You believe that to this day?
RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was physically in Baghdad.
RUMSFELD: They were operating...
BLITZER: Was he then -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- associated directly with Al Qaida?
RUMSFELD: No, probably not.
BLITZER: So why would you say that there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaida?
RUMSFELD: Because the intelligence reported that there were Al Qaida that moved in and out of Iraq and had some connection with the Saddam Hussein regime.
BLITZER: That was on September 26, 2002.
RUMSFELD: Saddam Hussein...
BLITZER: The intelligence -- your intelligence in February 2002 said exactly the opposite. There was a DIA intelligence estimate that's now been declassified -- Senator Levin released it -- that said this. "It is possible he does not know" -- referring to this intelligence source -- "does not know any further details. It is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Even Shaykh al-Libi has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest."
In effect, the DIA concluded this source, which alleged this Iraq-Al Qaida connection, was a fabricator.
RUMSFELD: There is no question that there are fabricators that operate in the intelligence world.
Please remember, whenever you hear the name of the demon Zarqawi, that this implacable enemy of freedom owes his very existence to the indulgence of George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, who thought he would be more useful alive than dead. From NBC News, March 2, 2004:
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.Prior to the invasion, Zarqawi had nothing to do with al Qaeda or Saddam; his base of operations was in the Kurd-controlled north. The Bush team nonetheless felt that as long as he remained within the borders of Iraq, they could tell the chumps that Saddam was playing host to terrorists.
The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council . . . .
Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.
The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.
“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.
The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam . . . .
And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.