Friday, April 6, 2007

Rationale for War #37, still a lie

Report details how Pentagon linked Saddam and al-Qaida:
Just four months after the Sept. 11 attacks, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz dashed off a memo to a senior Pentagon colleague, demanding action to identify connections between Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida.

"We don't seem to be making much progress pulling together intelligence on links between Iraq and al-Qaida," Wolfowitz wrote in the Jan. 22, 2002, memo to Douglas J. Feith, the department's No. 3 official.

Using Pentagon jargon for then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he added: "We owe SecDef some analysis of this subject. Please give me a recommendation on how best to proceed. Appreciate the short turn-around."

Wolfowitz's memo, released Thursday, is included in a recently declassified report by the Pentagon's inspector general. The memo marked the first days of what would become a controversial yearlong Pentagon project supervised by Feith to convince the most senior levels of the Bush administration that Saddam and al-Qaida were linked — a conclusion that was hotly disputed by U.S. intelligence agencies at the time and discredited in the years since.


Many of the activities of the intelligence unit Feith headed have become well-known. But the release of the full inspector general's report provided more detail about how a group of Pentagon officials and on-loan intelligence analysts were able to shunt aside contradictory reports and persuade top administration officials that they had powerful evidence of connections between Saddam's regime and al-Qaida. The 121-page report was released by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and is posted on the committee's Web site.


In making its case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration relied heavily on evidence that Saddam was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. However, another important reason was the allegation of connections between Iraq and al-Qaida. While the CIA has been criticized for erroneously gauging Iraq's weapons programs, its assessment of Iraq's ties to al-Qaida proved to be more accurate.

And of course, they're still making those accusations.
The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaida was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaida operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about al-Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq."

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