The Corner

Al Qaeda & Saddam

I should have been more clear last night. In my dyspeptic jihad against some of my critics (now that I’ve slept on it, you won’t be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing, btw) I said, essentially, that I didn’t believe there was any connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. What I should have said was that I didn’t believe — and never said — that Saddam had any connection to 9/11. That was the implied charge in that lefty’s complaint and that’s what I was referring to. A couple emails from readers on this point (though I don’t necessarily subscribe to every point):

As a National Review subscriber, I join Andy McCarthy in being utterly

dumbfounded on how the Bush Administration has let the media and Democrats

shamelessly create this urban legend that Saddam and Al Qaeda had no

relationship. It’s like the Sandy Berger wristslap — I just don’t get it.

Thank heavens Dick Cheney is holding the line. Bush should regard his Vice

President as Lincoln once summed up when asked to relieve U.S. Grant of his

command after horrific losses at Shiloh: Lincoln simply said, “I can’t

spare this man… he fights.” Why the rest of this administration doesn’t

fight? I dunno.

However… I think Cliff May once posted the link to the Clinton

Administration’s 1998 Grand Jury indictment (text below) against Bin Laden,

where THEY certainly made the case that Al Qaeda and Saddam, um, had a

relationship. (URL is also provided below, to the complete DOJ


Has anyone from the Clinton DOJ, or any Democrat, ever been asked to

explain this?

And:  couple of years ago, Byron and Rich wrote about the 9-11 Commission

Report detailing how Richard “Against All GOP Enemies” Clarke told Sandy

Berger in 1999 that if the U.S. targeted OBL in Afghanistan, “Armed with

that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.” Why would

“terror expert” Clarke think Bin Laden would flee to Iraq? Since Bill Maher

will never question Clarke about this on his next insufferable appearance

on Maher’s show, I hope someone will.

If this administration isn’t going to knock down this garbage on their own,

I hope NRO will keep reporting these facts.


But there WAS a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda, as has been documented hundreds of times including in commentary on Carl Levini’s mental illness in today’s Corner.  (Go on, scroll down the page, I’ll wait.)   What we don’t have evidence of is a link between Saddam and the specific attack on SEPTEMBER 11TH.  But then, I don’t know of a single actual conservative who has ever said there was such evidence.  (On 9/11 itself Vice President Cheney *asked* if Iraq could be involved – an entirely sensible question given that we and the Brits had been in a shooting war with Iraq for more than a decade and that Iraq was suspected of at least assisting the perpetrators of the 1993 WTC attack.)    Conflating “connection to al-Qaeda” and “connection with 9/11″ is another bit of lefist (and media, but I repeat myself) verbal ju-jistu designed to confuse the issue and disarm one’s opponent.  It is like framing the argument so that it is about “immigration” rather than “*illegal* immigration”, “stem cells” rather than “*embryonic* stem cells” or “global warming” rather than “man-made global warming”.  It is lying by omission and our side is too often willing to accept and even use this bogus language insetead of calling them on it and insisting on keeping distinctions that matter.  That’s why the press gets away with using NON-embryonic stem-cell successes (the only kind of successes there have actually been to date) as a way of promoting the dubious “promise” of embryonic stem cells, or painting skeptics about *man-made* global warming as idiots who can’t read a thermometer because they are rejecting the tiny observed increase in global temperatures, when they’re really rejecting the neo-pagan fundamentalist zealots who think they can change climate and natural processes by sacrificing SUVs on an altar in the forest.    Stop helping them get away with this crap.  If you *had* said Saddam was connected to al-Qaeda you would have been stating a simple fact and there is no reason to apologize for it or concede one inch on this or any other subject to the Looney Left.  Why is it only vicious war-mongering conservatives who are so concerned with politeness that they won’t even defend themselves from lying attacks.  (Yes, I’m looking at *you*, president Bush.) 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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