The Corner

CONNECTED: Iraq and al Qaeda

As several of us have noted countless times, there are influential elements of the Intelligence Community who are unmovably vested in the absence of a meaningful relationship between Saddam Hussein’s regime and radical Islam.  By some calculated leaks to friends in the mainstream media, they’ve once again managed to put an Orwellian spin on an important study, claiming the new Pentagon report on Iraq’s terror shows, as the New York Times and ABC put it, “no link” between Saddam and al Qaeda.  They are trying to write the narrative before anyone can read what the report actually says.

What it says is breathtaking.  Today’s required reading should be Steve Hayes’s post over at the Weekly Standard’s blog and Eli Lake’s article in the New York Sun.  There is simply no doubt that there were serious ties between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda elements — most especially, Egyptian Islamic Jihad (run by al Qaeda’s No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, who merged formally EIJ into al Qaeda in 1998).

To give a taste, Steve provides this from the new report’s abstract.  Once you read it, you might ask yourself (if you didn’t already know where the New York Times and the rest of the MSM are coming from), how anyone could read it and conclude “no link”:

Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist-operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a “de facto” link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.

The inexplicable shame of this is why the administration has silently allowed the anti-war Left and its own internal dissenters to solidify the “no connection” lie into a conventional wisdom that has irreparably eroded public support for the war effort.

UPDATE:  add to the required reading list:  Ed Morrissey from his new haunt at Hot Air.

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