Posted by Scott Malensek on 18 April, 2007 at 9:00 pm. 42 comments already!


When did the question of Saddam’s Ties to Al Queda become debunked?  Politicians on the left and right have all kinds of buzzwords and talking points on the matter, but what’s the difference between “ties,” “a relationship,” “a collaborative operational relationship,” “operational ties,” “a cooperational relationship,” “an alliance,” an “agreement”?  What does it all mean?

As far as I can tell, the debunking of the idea that Saddam and Al Queda would ever work together to attack the United States stems first from the 911 Commission report which said,

"According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.76"

“Collaborative Operational Relationship” seems to be the words that started the idea that Saddam and Al Queda would never work together to attack the US, but those three words are cherry-picked from the comment as a whole-a comment that hinges on the precursory words, “we have seen no evidence.”  These are repeated again in the very next sentence, “Nor have we seen evidence….”

At first glance it sounds like the commission members are saying that no evidence exists, but that’s not it at all as some of the 911 Commission members later elaborated.

“John Lehman, a 9/11 commissioner, spoke to The Weekly Standard at the time the report was released."There may well be–and probably will be–additional intelligence coming in from interrogations and from analysis of captured records and so forth which will fill out the intelligence picture. This is not phrased as–nor meant to be–the definitive word on Iraqi Intelligence activities."”

Upon seeing just a glimpse of the 18% of the millions of documents and thousands of hours of tapes captured from Saddam’s regime, 911 Commission member, Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) said,

"This is a very significant set of facts," former 9/11 commissioner, Mr. Kerry said yesterday. "I personally and strongly believe you don’t have to prove that Iraq was collaborating against Osama bin Laden on the September 11 attacks to prove he was an enemy and that he would collaborate with people who would do our country harm. This presents facts should not be used to tie Saddam to attacks on September 11. It does tie him into a circle that meant to damage the United States."

Other 911 Commission members have spoken out as well and made clear that the lack of evidence cited in their report was a reference to a lack of evidence gathered.  That word, “gathered” come directly from the CIA reports and other intelligence agency reports regarding Saddam’s Ties upon which the 911 Commission was using to make its assessments.

President’s Daily Brief (PDB)

  • Sept, 21, 2001
  • Just 10 days after the 911 attacks this summary assessment clearly suffered from lack of intelligence gathering and analysis since at the time it still wasn’t 100% clear that Al Queda was behind the 911 attacks.

NESA Report on Iraq’s Ties to Terrorism (terrorism in general/not specific to Al Queda). 

  • This was basically a preliminary draft of the CIA’s “Iraqi Support for Terrorism 2002” and “Iraqi Support for Terrorism 2003” reports.
  • October 2001
  • Formed no conclusions
  • lack of evidence gathered

"Iraq and al-Qa’ida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship"

  • 6/12/02
  • Formed no conclusions
  • specifically cited a lack of evidence gathered

“Iraqi Support for Terrorism 2002”

  • 9/18/02
  • Formed no conclusions
  • specifically cited a lack of evidence gathered

Letter from DCI Tenet, head of the CIA, to Sen. Bob Graham, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee

  • 10/7/02
  • Formed no conclusions, simply reiterated closed door testimony from CIA officials to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the more time passes, the more likely it is that Saddam would make WMD and use Al Queda to covertly and deniably attack the United States
  • Lists several examples of Saddam’s support for terrorism, Al Queda, and its proxy terror affiliates

“Report of the Joint Inquiry Into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001-By the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence  and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence”

  • December 2002
  • Reiterated the comments from the 9/21/01 PDB and the 10/7/02 Tenet Letter
  • Added more reports of possible Iraqi involvement in the 911 attacks
  • Cited a lack of evidence gathered as a problem that prevented forming any conclusions

“Iraqi Support for Terrorism 2003”

  • January 2003
  • This was basically a rehash of the 2002 version with a little new info since the CIA finally got a spy back into Iraq just a few weeks prior to its release
  • Formed no conclusions
  • specifically cited a lack of evidence gathered

“Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Investigation Into Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq (Phase I report)”

  • July 7, 2004
  • confirmed the various reports of ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Queda as presented in other reports (including confirmation of most of the comments made by Feith and his office), and repeatedly stated that the Bush Administration’s claims were “reasonable” as well as often accurate reflections of the intelligence reporting at the time.
  • “Due to the limited amount and questionable quality of reporting on the leadership intentions of Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Ladin, the CIA was unable to make conclusive assessments in Iraqi Support for Terrorism regarding Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaida. The CIA stated in the Scope Note: ‘Our knowledge of Iraq’s ties to terrorism is evolving DELETED. . . . ‘”

“911 Commission Final Report”

  • July 22, 2004
  • Formed no conclusions regarding regime ties to Al Queda
  • members later specifically cited a lack of evidence gathered and asked that the question of regime ties to Al Queda be examined further-not dismissed or otherwise closed.

“Iraqi Perspective Project Report” (DoD)

  • March 2006
  • Confirmed many of the previously reported ties between the regime and Al Queda
  • Found many more examples of ties and further demonstrated that there was in fact a relationship between the two, that it was dangerous, and that it was growing faster than expected
  • Cited a lack of intelligence gathered before the war, and an even larger, more deliberate, and more unexplained refusal to investigate the relationship after the invasion given the wealth of captured intelligence and detained regime members.


  • September 9, 2006
  • Cited the post-war refusal of any and all intelligence agencies to investigate the depth and threat of the relationship between Saddam’s regime and Al Queda
  • Used the refusal of intelligence agencies to investigate pre-war intelligence and the causes for the lack thereof, the Senate Intelligence Committee openly, freely, and admittedly took it upon itself to act as an intelligence agency and form an intelligence assessment on its own.
  • (U) The CIA has not published a “fully researched, coordinated and approved position” on the postwar reporting on the former regime’s links to al-Qa’ida, but has published such a paper on the postwar reporting on Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi and the former Iraqi regime. The CIA told the Committee that regarding Iraq’s links to terrorism, “the research the Counterterrorist Center has done on this issue has called into question some of the reports of contacts and training . . . revealed other contacts of which we were unaware, and shed new light on some contacts that appeared in prewar reporting. On balance, this research suggests that the prewar judgment remains valid.“
    2004 SSCI Report Page 62
     (Recall that previous investigations had determined that pre-war judgments as presented by the Bush Administration were “accurate” and “reasonable.”)

There are some consistencies in all these investigations and their reports.

They all refuse to form a conclusion

They all say there was a relationship, but the depth of it is debated inside the intelligence community

They all say the matter should be looked into rather than dismissed, closed, or perpetuated as a resolved point of discussion.

With all that consistency in mind, why hasn’t Congress demanded an investigation into the relationship?  This relationship is core to the strategy and approach in both of the wars that America has been fighting for years now:

A war in Iraq where Saddam once ruled,

and a war in Afghanistan, where Osama Bin Laden ruled.

Republicans seem afraid to ask that simple, vital question, and Democrats seem all too eager to ignore the only 3 consistencies between all of the previous investigations that have been conducted so to date.  Members of Congress routinely demand investigations into anything and everything on Capitol Hill, so, why not examine the depth of the relationship between America’s enemies; enemies who have killed their constituents, and seek right now to kill even more?  One would think that’s a little more important than raising the minimum wage for tuna fishermen in American Samoa, but apparently not.  In direct contradiction to every investigation so far (both pre-war and post-war) the Democrats who control Congress seem even more afraid than Republicans to finally conclude this matter.  Instead, they’ve chosen to act in denial of not one, not two, not three, but in denial of every single investigation so far that said there was a lack of evidence, then a lack of analysis, and that the question remains open-not closed.  Speaker Pelosi’s mind is closed-lest some CIA analyst point out that everything she’s been feeding her lobbyists, political action committees, and other supporters has been based on nothing but political pandering.

We the American people must demand that an investigation into the depth of the relationship between Saddam’s regime and Bin Laden’s terrorist network be conducted and conclusions that should have been made before the war finally be made.  At a time of war with the remnants of both enemies, how can responsible legislators and a dedicated intelligence community continue to refuse to investigate this?  The answer is simple, the legislators who deny the 3 commonalities listed earlier and who dismiss the relationship are simply not responsible legislators.

The absolute denial of politicians who continue to falsely claim that there was no relationship at all between Al Queda and Saddam’s regime are either inept beyond acceptability if they have not read the reports listed above, or they are flat out liars if they have read those reports and are dismissing the nature of those who seek to kill Americans; our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Politicians who claim the war in Iraq is “separate from the war on terror” (where every single soldier and Marine killed or wounded since 5/1/03 has been killed in an attack using terrorist tactics) are either completely uninformed by the US military (ignoring or turning down military briefings and intelligence reports), or they are acting in direct and deliberate misrepresentation of the conduct of this war for little more than penciled in circles on ballots every other year.

Additionally, an intelligence community that continues to take a lackadaisical approach to the matter is not properly dedicated at all levels, but rather as politicized and ideologically divided as Congress.  The events of 911, the intelligence failures of the Iraq War, the surprise collapse of the Soviet Union, high level spies infiltrating the CIA and FBI, and so much more all serve as examples to the American people of an intelligence community packed with people who are more concerned about saying the politically correct thing in the political capital of the world than they are about forming a conclusion on who the enemy of the United States is and has been.

Saddam is dead.  He was a criminal.  He was a mass murderer.  He was a tyrant, and he was a liar.  Why take his word?  Americans spend $40 billion to $100billion a year for 16 different intelligence agencies, and yet rather than get a conclusion based on the intelligence collection and analysis from those any of those 15 agencies, the American people are told to believe Saddam because they are afraid of presenting unpleasant conclusions on a matter that is at least 4 yrs old, and more accurately 15years old.

That’s not acceptable.  America didn’t pay $160 billion dollars to get told just take Saddam’s word for it.  It’s time to conduct a real investigation, and a form a real conclusion-a conclusion from intelligence agencies not political committees acting as intelligence agencies.

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