June 16, 2004

FROM THE 9/11 COMMISSION: “The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks found ‘no credible evidence’ of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida in attacks against the United States, contradicting President Bush’s assertion that such a connection was among the reasons it was necessary to topple Saddam Hussein.”

I’d be interested in seeing a comparison between this report and Stephen Hayes’ book.

UPDATE: Steven Antler emails:

Please, Glenn, issue a call to the blogosphere to find out who were the two Bin Laden “senior associates” cited as denying the Iraq/Bin Laden connection. If the statement appearedin the middle of a long anti-Bush rant modeled after those originating from the US left, it is vital this news get out ASAP.

Let’s hear it. Cody Hatch is already skeptical:

I assume that the Sept. 11th Commission has access to documents that I do not, and that they have access to people and testimony that I do not, but where is the “credible evidence” that nothing came from these meetings? Did Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan send a senior intelligence official to meet with bin Laden, as Iraq did? How many nations sent official representatives in response to requests by bin Laden for meetings?

Sorry if I sound a bit skeptical of the panel’s report, but it seems to me that either they have solid non-public evidence that nothing resulted from the meetings between Iraqi representatives and al Qaeda, or they are dismissing them for lack of solid evidence that something did result from the meetings. If they’re dismissing the meetings out-of-hand, that’s a major gap in their report, and should be addressed. If they have non-public evidence demonstrating that nothing resulted from the meetings, that information should be made public or the panel should say that they have classified information demonstrating that nothing resulted from Iraq’s meetings with al Qaeda.

Sorry, but after the panel’s antics and grand-standing over the past few months, I can’t simply take their word for it.

Their behavior to date certainly hasn’t been credibility-enhancing. Meanwhile Karl Bade emails that the Commission is being disingenuous:

The key phrase is “in attacks against the United States.” It seems to me that the Bush Administration has been very careful to state that it did not believe there was a link between Iraq and 9/11, even though Czech intell stands by its report on the meeting between Atta and an Iraqi agent. This apparent mischaracterization of the Administration’s position adds to the list of reasons to doubt the Commission’s judgment as to what is “credible” evidence in the first instance.

And here’s another writer noting that the report is being given an anti-Bush spin:

So. The Bush administration said Iraq and al-Qaida had contacts. The 9-11 commission says the same thing. The Bush administration hasn’t said Iraq aided al-Qaida in any of its attacks. The 9-11 commision says there is no evidence that Iraq aided al-Qaida in any of its attacks. According to the Washington Post, this is “contradiction”. Apparently somebody needs to sit the reporters and editors of the Washington Post down for a remedial logic course.

Stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Gerstman notes a chronological error in the report. Robert Racansky, on the other hand, wonders if the Commission read the U.S. Government’s 1998 indictment against Osama bin Laden, which said: “In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.” Or did that turn out to be wrong? (There’s this report, too.)

And Q&0 has helpfully outlined the talking points for both sides from the report.

STILL MORE: The Washington Post has apparently been editing its story this afternoon in response to criticisms, though it hasn’t so indicated on the page.

MORE STILL: Tacitus has more on how this story is being misreported.

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