Report: No Link Between Iraq and al Qaeda

by TChris

Continuing the Bush administration's tireless efforts to persuade the public that the invasion of Iraq was necessary to protect the U.S., Vice President Cheney this week reiterated the claim that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" to al Qaeda. Responding to those comments yesterday, President Bush claimed that the presence in Iraq of Islamist militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was "the best evidence of (a) connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda."

If that's the "best evidence," it isn't strong enough to persuade the 9/11 Commission that a link existed between Hussein and al Qaeda. According to a staff report released today:

"There is no convincing evidence that any government financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11 -- other than limited support provided by the Taliban after bin Laden first arrived in Afghanistan."

The report by commission staff said al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in 1994 and had explored the possibility of cooperation, but the plans apparently never came to fruition.

The administration never lets facts stand in the way of assertions, so expect no retreat from the claim that invading Iraq was necessary to protect the U.S. from another al Qaeda attack. Just remember the report's bottom line: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."

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