in the coverage of today’s 9/11 hearing are the following excerpts of the mind-boggling testimony by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright responding to questions posed by Commissioner John Lehman:
LEHMAN: Did you know about Abdel Rahman Yasin and his fleeing to Baghdad and his support and cooperation with Saddam’s intelligence service? Did you see any significance in that? He being, of course, one of the main plotters of the ’93 bombing.
ALBRIGHT: I can’t say that I remember that.
LEHMAN: Just on that theme, the fact that Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas were there along with Yasin, would this have been a reason to begin to look a bit at what the Iraqi secret service was doing with Al Qaida, with or without Saddam’s knowledge?
ALBRIGHT: Again, my sense of all of this was that there were shadowy connections among a variety of groups. But in terms of this kind of specificity, frankly, that was not something that as secretary of state I would have been looking into….
LEHMAN: The reports at the time and subsequently have appeared in various places that the evidence involved with the pharmaceutical plant not only involved Al Qaida and specifically Osama, but also the Iraqi — various programs within the Iraqi government, let us say. Did you see any significance in that as something to worry about, perhaps the Iraqis’ involvement with Osama might be a bit more than it might appear?
ALBRIGHT: I did not make the connection. But let me just say this, is that if you look at the record, I was as hawkish on Saddam Hussein as anybody, made more statements and took more actions, whether I was ambassador at the United Nations or secretary of state, in terms of trying to contain Saddam Hussein and make sure that he proceeded in terms of trying to live up to or fulfill the Security Council resolutions.
ALBRIGHT: And so, I did not or do not remember making a link between what was happening in Sudan and the Iraqis. I don’t know, Tom, whether you have anything.
PICKERING: Mr. Secretary, I also participated in the meetings leading up to that decision. There were two pieces of evidence only that I was aware of that I thought were very, very important and that helped, I believe, to crystallize the decision. One was the report we had following chemical analysis of the actual sample of a precursor to VX nerve gas that did not occur in nature. It was very unique and was not used for any other known purpose. And the other was the connection that the secretary just talked to you about of the plant with investments of activities of Osama bin Laden in Sudan. As you know, he spent time in Sudan prior to the attack on the plant. And I was not aware of any Iraqi connection until after the attack.
(Courtesy of Laurie Mylroie.)