“No connection between al-Qaida and Saddam.” This announcement went through media Wednesday after the Sept. 11 Commission issued a statement declaring there was “no credible evidence” to support any such claims. This should be no surprise. Other aspects of this “revelation” are far more troubling, though.
After not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Bush administration shifted gears and attempted to connect Sept. 11 with Iraq in order to garner support for the military actions, the necessity of which more and more Americans are questioning. Sometimes this connection came by association via mentioning the two in the same sentence; other times it was more explicit.
Vice President Dick Cheney said as recently as Monday, “(Saddam Hussein) had long-established ties with al-Qaida” in a speech at Florida conservative think tank The James Madison Institute. When President George W. Bush was asked about the statement during a press briefing Tuesday, he said, “Saddam Hussein also had ties to terrorist organizations, as well.”
These are only the latest two statements by the administration that connect Saddam with Sept. 11. The actions in Iraq, justifiable or not, were not connected with the war on terror. Any other statements by the administration that claim such a thing are simply not true.
Al-Qaida agents did meet with members of Saddam’s regime. The important thing to note, though, is that Bin Laden himself nixed any such partnership, according to the report, as Saddam’s regime was secular, something Bin Laden did not approve of.
Since the fall of the regime, al-Qaida has gained a foothold in the region. But this is hardly Saddam’s fault, since he is held in a “secure and undisclosed location.” It is only since the fall of his hardliner regime that terrorism gained influence in the region.
The non-existence of such connections had been long established. Several officials, including former Terrorism Adviser to the White House Richard Clarke, testified under oath in front of the Commission that there was no such connection. He and others also testified that the administration was told in unmistakable terms that there was no connection.
Even more importantly, Bush himself, while standing next to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan. 31, 2003, answered a question by the press that asked if there was a connection with, “I can’t make that claim.”
The question therefore should be: Why does our government state facts they know to be untrue?