The connection, take 56

In the new issue of the Weekly Standard, Steve Hayes expands on his post regarding the Pentagon report documenting Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism. The report, Steve writes, ought to be big news:

Throughout the early and mid-1990s, Saddam Hussein actively supported an influential terrorist group headed by the man who is now al Qaeda’s second-in-command, according to an exhaustive study issued last week by the Pentagon.

In the related editorial, Bill Kristol meditates on the apparently guilty silence of the White House regarding the report:

If you talk to people in the Bush administration, they know the truth about the report. They know that it makes the case convincingly for Saddam’s terror connections. But they’ll tell you (off the record) it’s too hard to try to set the record straight. Any reengagement on the case for war is a loser, they’ll say. Furthermore, once the first wave of coverage is bad, you can never catch up: You give the misleading stories more life and your opponents further chances to beat you up in the media. And as for trying to prevent misleading summaries and press leaks in the first place–that’s hopeless. Someone will tell the media you’re behaving like Scooter Libby, and God knows what might happen next.
So, this week’s fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war will bring us countless news stories reexamining the case for war, with the White House essentially pleading nolo contendere.

It’s part of a sorry story that goes back to the Bush administration’s retreat in the face of the controversy over the “sixteen words” in President Bush’s January 28, 2003 State of the Union Address.
FOOTNOTE: Dan Wismar has collected links to all of Steve Hayes’s articles on “the connection.”

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