If I could just pile on for a moment to the characteristically astute points made by Jim and Jonah, I concede — at least based on what we currently know — to being underwhelmed by the WMD information. It is not insignificant by any means, and Sen. Santorum and Rep. Hoekstra are absolutely right to be sticking it to people who continue disingenuously saying there was no WMD. But, what we have at the moment is paltry compared to what was predicted in the run-up to the war on the basis of the then-existing intelligence, and it’s thus understandable that the administration does not want to make a big deal out of this information and potentially re-open what I think Jonah correctly argues is a closed issue as far as the public is concerned.
The same cannot be said, however, for Saddam and terrorism. The killing of Zarqawi opened up a golden opportunity to exploit the fact that he was in place in Iraq long before our invasion — especially after his successor, al-Masri, was named and it turned out that he, too, had been operating in Iraq since 2002.
Add to that, for example, Bin Laden and Zawahiri both had high-level meetings with Saddam’s underlings from about 1994 forward; Iraqis helped train and gave safe harbor to al Qaeda members; Iraq gave a lot of money to Zawahiri; if you read Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa about killing all Americans — two months before the embassy bombings — you are struck by how much he relies on American action against Iraq; Saddam wanted jihadists to blow up Radio Free Europe in Prague in 1998-99; an al Qaeda detainee at Gitmo at Gitmo is an Iraqi who — the same month as our embassies were blown up in August 1998 — is alleged to have gone to Pakistan with an Iraqi intelligence agent to investigate the possibility of blowing up the U.S. and/or British embassy there; the possibility remains that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague in April 2001; and there has never been any explanation for what an Iraqi intelligence operative, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, was doing in Kuala Lampur in January 2000 at what most agree was the initial planning meeting for the 9/11 attacks (Shakir having ushered eventual hijacker Khalid al-Midhar through customs at the airport — a job he got through Iraqi intelligence). I could go on, but you get the point.
I remain as mind-boggled as Jim is that the administration has resisted making this case known to the American people. It seems to me that the unspeakable depravity with which our two soldiers were brutalized by al Qaeda in Iraq would provide a unique teaching moment — to remind those whose memory of the horror of 9/11 has grown dim about just how evil is what we are fighting and how necessary it is that we defeat it and any regime that facilitates it. And if I were asked to imagine a perfect spokesman for making that case, I can’t think of a smarter, more effective one than Tony Snow.
What on earth are they waiting for?