The Democrats obviously think they are on to something with their attacks on the case the Administration made for the Iraq war; their campaign continues today with this article by Walter Pincus in the Washington Post, which has appeared in many other newspapers as well. This one is titled “Report Cast Doubt on Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection,” and it follows the familiar pattern: anonymous Democrats in the intelligence agencies and on Congressional staffs leak information to Democratic journalists, who fashion it selectively into an attack on President Bush.
Pincus attacks the speech that President Bush made in Cincinnati last October, in which he outlined the danger posed by Saddam Hussein. Congressional authorization for military action followed a few days later. Pincus’s allegation is the familiar one that President Bush cited intelligence reports selectively in claiming that there was evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The essence of the Post’s attack is that President Bush failed to disclose the fact that the intelligence community was split on the nature and extent of Saddam’s links to terrorist organizations, and on the likelihood that he would pass weapons of mass destruction on to such organizations.
This attack seems rather weak, given that we now know for a fact that Iraq did harbor al Qaeda terrorists; our troops fought them in northern Iraq. We also know for a fact that Iraq harbored other terrorists like Abu Mussab Zarqawi, Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, the Achille Lauro hijacker. All of these individuals murdered American citizens and then fled to Iraq.
At times, the Post reaches so far in its effort to discredit the President that the effect is somewhat bizarre. For example, Pincus says: “‘We’ve learned,’ Bush said in his speech, ‘that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.’ But the president did not mention that when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had referred the previous month to such training, she had said the source was al Qaeda captives.” Huh? This is laughable. Al Qaeda captives would obviously be the best possible source for this information.
President Bush’s Cincinnati speech is available in its entirety here. It is worth re-reading; there is hardly a word in it that has not been confirmed by subsequent events. For the record, here is what the President said about the possible connections between Iraq and terrorist groups:
“Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.
“We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.
“Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.”
This is an excellent summary of the danger posed by Iraq; it is hard to see how a single sentence of it could even be deemed controversial. It is very well for the Washington Post to say that “the chance that the Iraqi leader would turn weapons over to al Qaeda was low.” President Bush does not have the luxury of dismissing such threats as “low probabilities.” Before September 11, the Washington Post would no doubt have assessed the probability of terrorists flying airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center as “low.” Given the dangers our country faces, it is hard to see the Democrats’ attacks on the Administration’s efforts to provide for our security as anything other than treacherous.
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