Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

SADDAM AND OSAMA....Spencer Ackerman reads the 9/11 report so you don't have to. Today's question: Did Saddam Hussein have any serious relationship with al-Qaeda?

....the options left available to those who argue for a link are few. They can successfully argue that the Commission reaffirms contacts, conversations and points of mutual interest between Iraq and Al Qaeda throughout the 1990s. (The CIA has done so all along through this debate.) What they can't successfully do is make the jump to say that those contacts, conversations and points of mutual interest had much significance.

Read the whole post (it's not very long) to see why he says that. Basically, Saddam and Osama had a few tentative contacts, the most recent of which was in 1998/99 when Osama's relationship with the Taliban was undergoing some strain and Saddam had just been bombed by U.S./British forces. But even at that, the evidence for some of those contacts turned out to be third-hand, recanted, denied by other al-Qaeda prisoners, or contradicted by known facts. The supposed meeting of Mohamed Atta with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague, for example, now appears to be thoroughly debunked. It just didn't happen.

We'll never conclude that there were absolutely no contacts between Saddam and al-Qaeda, of course. This is the Middle East: everyone has connections of some kind with al-Qaeda. But Iraq seems to have had fewer contacts than virtually every other regime in the area.

Bottom line: the CIA, The Senate Intelligence Committee report, the Butler Report, and now the 9/11 report all conclude the same thing: there was no serious relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Time to move on.

Kevin Drum 12:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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