Friday, September 08, 2006

Surprise, surprise

This just in from Reuters: Senate panel finds no prewar Iraq-Qaeda link.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Saddam Hussein had no relationship with al Qaeda, including Iraq-based guerrilla Abu Musab al Zarqawi, despite claims by President George W. Bush and other administration officials, a Senate report released on Friday said.

The report, one of two newly declassified reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, drew on a previously undisclosed October 2005 CIA assessment as Americans prepared to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States by al Qaeda.

Gee, no kidding?

The NYT reports this:
The disclosure undercuts continuing claims by the Bush administration that such ties existed, and that they provided evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Republican-controlled committee also sharply criticized the administration for its reliance on the Iraqi National Congress during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

The findings, in two new reports, are part of an ongoing inquiry by the Senate committee into pre-war intelligence about Iraq. The conclusions went beyond the committee'’s earlier findings, issued in the summer of 2004, by including criticism not just of American intelligence agencies but also the administration.

[. . .]

As recently as two weeks ago, President Bush said at a news conference that Mr. Hussein "had relations with Zarqawi."’ But a C.I.A. report completed in October 2005 concluded instead that Sadddam Hussein'’s regime "“did not have a relationship, harbor, or even turn a blind eye toward Mr. Zarqawi and his associates," according to the new Senate findings.

The C.I.A. report also directly contradicted claims made in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who mentioned Mr. Zarqawi by name no fewer than 20 times during a speech to the United Nations Security Council that made the administration'’s case to go to war. In that speech, Mr. Powell said that Iraq "“today harbors a deadly terrorist network" headed by Mr. Zarqawi, and dismissed as "“not credible" assertions by the Iraqi government that it had no knowledge of Mr. Zarqawi's whereabouts.

In fact, the Senate investigation concluded that Mr. Hussein regarded Al Qaeda as a threat rather as a potential ally, and that the Iraqi intelligence service "“actively attempted to locate and capture al-Zarqawi without success."

The report by the committee specifically criticized a decision by the National Security Council in 2002 to maintain a close relationship with the Iraqi National Congress, headed by the exile leader Ahmed Chalabi, even after the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency had warned that "the I.N.C was penetrated by hostile intelligence services," notably Iran.

The report concluded that the I.N.C. had provided a large volume of flawed intelligence to the United States about Iraq, and concluded that the group "“attempted to influence United States policy on Iraq by providing false information through defectors directed at convincing the United States that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorists."

Is it even remotely plausible that the Bush Administration can find the truth, understand it, and then say it?

I can't wait to see the hand waving and foot shuffling by the Bush Administration during the next few days. When President Bush is questioned he'll say, "golly, I didn't know any of that. Nobody ever tells me anything around here."


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