9/11 report bombshell
The just-released Congressional report on intelligence failures prior to the 9/11 attacks contains, if this UPI story is true, some incredibly damaging information for the Bush Administration:
The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.
"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida," said a government official who has seen the report.
Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official's statement.
Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied: "I do ... There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden's terrorist followers."
The revelation is likely to embarrass the Bush administration, which made links between Saddam's support for bin Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction -- a major plank of its case for war.
"The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland. "What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."
The inquiry, by members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees, was launched in February last year amid growing concerns that failures by U.S. intelligence had allowed the 19 al-Qaida terrorists to enter the United States, hijack four airliners, and kill almost 3,000 people.
Although the committee completed its work at the end of last year, publication of the report has been delayed by interminable wrangles between the committees and the administration over which parts of it could be declassified. [Emphasis added]
Cleland accused the administration of deliberately delaying the report's release to avoid having its case for war undercut.
"The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out," he said.
"Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration."
I've often commented that -- while an actual connection between al Qaeda and Saddam would be ample causus belli -- the Administration's repeated claims of such -- their conspicuous claims of "bulletproof" evidence followed by conspicuous failure to provide any convincing evidence -- was one of the weakest links in a case marked composed more of speculation and ominous hints than a sober and rational assesment of actual intelligence. It now appears as if the Bush Administration -- including Bush himself, who never missed an opportunity to dishonestly conflate 9/11 and Iraq, although the two have never been shown to have the remotest connection -- not only masqueraded purely unfounded speculation as established fact, but actually made those claims knowing their own intelligence contradicted it.
It also certainly appears as if the Administration manipulated the report's release date in order to prevent information that undercut one of its key rationales for the war -- information, once again, it was well aweare of -- from surfacing.
If true, this is more solid evidence of Bush's deception before the war. Regardless of the valid rationales for confronting Iraq, taking the nation into a war of aggression based on lies is simply inexcusable, and I'm simply disgusted at formerly respectable conservatives who refuse to condemn their precious President for his prevarications.
Talking Points Memo has more.
Update: Matthew Yglesias has read the article and the report, and says the latter does not support the former. Stay tuned.