Thursday, November 24, 2005

no, congress didn't have the same intelligence, and no, there was no link between al qaeda and iraq

I've said it before: it is a lie when Bush or Cheney or whoever says Congressional Democrats had the same intelligence as the White House before the invasion of Iraq, or when Cheney claims there were operational links between secular Iraq and theocratic Al Qaeda.

Murray Waas goes into more detail in this National Journal article. (Yes, Bill Buckley's conservative National Journal.)

The claim Bush and Company have NOT tied Iraq to Al Qaeda, despite being told as early as September 21 that there was no proof of any connection? A lie:
"You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," President Bush said on September 25, 2002.

The next day, Rumsfeld said, "We have what we consider to be credible evidence that Al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts with Iraq who could help them acquire … weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities."

The most explosive of allegations came from Cheney, who said that September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, the pilot of the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center, had met in Prague, in the Czech Republic, with a senior Iraqi intelligence agent, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, five months before the attacks. On December 9, 2001, Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press: "[I]t's pretty well confirmed that [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in [the Czech Republic] last April, several months before the attack."
The claim that Congress had the same intelligence as the de facto Administration? A lie:
The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.

Indeed, the existence of the September 21 PDB was not disclosed to the Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004, according to congressional sources. Both Republicans and Democrats requested then that it be turned over. The administration has refused to provide it, even on a classified basis, and won't say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.

The source of much of the crap fed to the White House (and eventually, to Congress)? Two schmucks working for the zealot Doug Feith at the Pentagon:
At first, the Feith-directed unit primarily consisted of two men, former journalist Michael Maloof and David Wurmser, a veteran of neoconservative think tanks. They liked to refer to themselves as the "Iraqi intelligence cell" of the Pentagon. And they took pride in the fact that their office was in an out-of-the-way cipher-locked room, with "charts that rung the room from one end to the other" showing the "interconnections of various terrorist groups" with one another and, most important, with Iraq, Maloof recalled in an interview.

But neither Maloof nor Wurmser had any experience or formal training in intelligence analysis. Maloof later lost his security clearance, for allegedly failing to disclose a relationship with a woman who is a foreigner, and after allegations that he leaked classified information to the press. Maloof said in the interview that he has done nothing wrong and was simply being punished for his controversial theories. Wurmser has since been named as Cheney's Middle East adviser.

But Cheney liked their stuff.
Those grievances were also perhaps illustrated by comments that Vice President Cheney himself wrote on one of Feith's reports detailing purported evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. In barely legible handwriting, Cheney wrote in the margin of the report:

"This is very good indeed … Encouraging … Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA."
Heck, what's the point of having trained intelligence analysts who refuse to give you the answers you want, when you can hire a couple of morons who'll misread and misunderstand everything and give you what you want to believe? We could save a lot of money by disbanding much of the CIA and just hiring right-wing fiction writers. They'll create a good plot and give the neocons just what they want.