Saddam and al Qaeda
This article is getting wide play (for example, Barry Ritholtz emailed me about it although he hasn’t yet posted on it):
Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported Wednesday there was “no credible evidence” that Saddam Hussein (news – web sites) helped al-Qaida target the United States.
In a chilling report that sketched the history of Osama bin Laden (news – web sites)’s network, the commission said his far-flung training camps were “apparently quite good.” Terrorists-to-be were encouraged to “think creatively about ways to commit mass murder,” it added.
Bin Laden made overtures to Saddam for assistance, the commission said in the staff report, as he did with leaders in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan (news – web sites) and elsewhere as he sought to build an Islamic army.
While Saddam dispatched a senior Iraqi intelligence official to Sudan to meet with bin Laden in 1994, the commission said it had not turned up evidence of a “collaborative relationship.”
The Bush administration has long claimed links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, and cited them as one reason for last year’s invasion of Iraq (news – web sites).
On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney (news – web sites) said in a speech that the Iraqi dictator “had long established ties with al-Qaida.”
As Steven Taylor observes in a lengthy post, however, this coverage ellides a rather important distinction between “ties with al Qaeda” and “helped al-Qaida target the United States.”
Update: I’m working on an expanded article on this topic for publication elsewhere. See Richard Miniter‘s piece for further discussion in the meantime.
UPDATE (6/18): The expanded version was published at TCS.