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Friday, December 19, 2003

Iraq, 9/11 and al Qaeda

David Kay is quitting the search for WMD in Iraq. That's perhaps another sign that there are no WMD to be found.

At the Road to Surfdom, Tim Dunlop points out that the administration really had only two "winning" arguments for attacking Iraq. The third one, about human rights, wasn't sufficient justification for war. This is from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's Vanity Fair interview:
...there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two...

The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it.
In short, even if Saddam Hussein was a really bad guy and killed lots of people, the neocons would not have wanted to go to war in Iraq without a clearer US national security concern. As I've noted repeatedly, candidate Bush said he would not have gone to war in Rwanda to save 600,000 lives.

Anyway, this means either WMD or terrorism justified the war.

WMD is apparently out.

So what about terror? Especially al Qaeda and 9/11? As noted here before, the President himself says there's no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11.

After the "Daily Show" yesterday, I flipped over to MSNBC and caught the last part of "Hardball." Chris Matthews was asking his panelists if they believed the case for war against Iraq depended upon linking Saddam Hussein and Iraq to al Qaeda and 9/11.

In other words, the question of the day here. Matthews and a couple of his other guests said this issue was crucial and the administration is in big trouble because it was blowing smoke. Around the world, nobody really believes Iraq's secular regime had ties to some of the very same people who would like to topple it. The terrorists that Bush et al keep mentioning operated out of Kurdish controlled territory and opposed Hussein's regime.

Anyway, former GOP speechwriter Peggan Noonan really didn't want to answer Matthews's question. I'd point to the transcript, but MSNBC's site is taking me to the Abrams Report transcript instead. Looks like someone typed the wrong character somewhere.

This is a VERY big deal and I think we'll all find ourselves going back more-and-more to what the President and those around him said leading up to the war.

For example, consider this news conferenceexchange from September 25, 2002:
Patsy Wilson, Reuters.

Q: Mr. President, do you believe that Saddam Hussein is a bigger threat to the United States than al Qaeda?

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's a -- ”that is an interesting question. I'm trying to think of something humorous to say. (Laughter.) But I can't when I think about al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. They're both risks, they're both dangerous. The difference, of course, is that al Qaeda likes to hijack governments. Saddam Hussein is a dictator of a government. Al Qaeda hides, Saddam doesn't, but the danger is, is that they work in concert. The danger is, is that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world.

Both of them need to be dealt with. The war on terror, you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. And so it's a comparison that is รข€” I can't make because I can't distinguish between the two, because they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil, and equally as destructive.
Look, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Yankees are equally bad, evil, and destructive, but that doesn't mean they work together. This would be true even if they had common enemies.

Consider the words of Jack Straw, Foreign Minister of our closest ally in the "coalition of the willing."
"It could well be the case that there were links, active links, between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime before Sept. 11," Straw said. "What I'm asked is if I've seen any evidence of that. And the answer is: I haven't."
Britain refused to mention the link in the famous dossier against Hussein last fall and a leaked document from their Defense Intelligence Staff found no current links between al Qaeda and Iraq.


Update: Atrios has the Noonan exchange with Matthews.

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