July 24, 2003

9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida

Three more US soldiers died in Iraq over night (for
what?)...Meanwhile, the LNS vision for the Democratic
Party 2004 convention includes a keynote speech from
Max Cleland (D-GA), opening music from the Dixie
Chicks, and the nominees (hopefully Kerry (D-Mekong
Delta and Graham (D-Fraudida) all introduced by 9/11
family members, Kerry's Vietnam veteran "dog patrol,"
Enron workers who lost their jobs and savings and
voters from Dade, Palm Beach, Broward, Duval and Leon
counties in Fraudida. Cleland was mysteriously
*defeated* in the 2002 Senate election in Georgia (in
which touch screen voting was debuted in the state)
following a shameful Republican media campaign that
depicted Cleland, a Vietnam veteran who lost three of
his limbs fighting the war that the _resident and most
of the Republican national leadership ducked one way
or another, as unpatriotic and a coward for opposing
the _resident's foolish and unnecesary war in
Iraq...Now he has taken the lead in underscoring the
the fact that the _resident's lying on Iraq has a lot
more to it than the "sixteen words" that CIA Director
George TooNice tried to spin it as...


9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published 7/23/2003 7:48 PM
View printer-friendly version

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- 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

"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and
al-Qaida," said a government official who has seen the

Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a
member of the joint congressional committee that
produced the report, confirmed the official's

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.

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

The case that administration officials made that
al-Qaida was linked to Iraq was based on four planks.

Firstly, the man suspected of being the ringleader of
the Sept. 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, was supposed to
have met with an Iraqi intelligence official in
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, in April
2001. But Czech intelligence - the original source of
the report - later recanted, and U.S. intelligence
officials now believe that Atta was in the United
States at the time of the supposed meeting.

The Iraqi official, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
is now in U.S. custody.

Secondly, U.S. officials said Iraq was harboring an
alleged al-Qaida terrorist named Abu Mussab al-Zakawi.

But the government official who has seen the report
poured scorn on the evidence behind this claim.

"Because someone makes a telephone call from a
country, does not mean that the government of that
country is complicit in that," he told UPI.

"When we found out there was an al-Qaida cell
operating in Germany, we didn't say 'we have to invade
Germany, because the German government supports
al-Qaida.' ... There was no evidence to indicate that
the Iraqi government knew about or was complicit in
Zakawi's activities."

Newsweek magazine has also reported that German
intelligence agencies - having interrogated one of
Zakawi's associates - believed that Zakawi was not
even an al-Qaida member, but headed a rival Islamic
terror group.

Thirdly, defectors provided to U.S. intelligence by
the then-exiled opposition group, the Iraqi National
Congress, said that Islamic terrorists had been
training to hijack airliners using a disused plane
fuselage at a camp in Salman Pak in Iraq.

"My understanding was that there was an alternate
explanation for that," said the government official,
suggesting that that they were doing counter terrorism
training there. "I'm not saying that was the
explanation, but there were other ways of looking at

Fourthly, officials have cited a series of meetings in
the 1980's and 1990's between Iraqi officials and
al-Qaida members, especially in Sudan.

Former CIA counter-terrorism analyst Judith Yaphe has
questioned the significance of this data, "Every
terrorist group and state sponsor was represented in
Sudan (at that time)," she said recently, "How could
they not meet in Khartoum, a small city offering many
opportunities for terrorist tête-à-têtes."

The government official added that the significance of
such meetings was unclear: "Intelligence officials,
including ours, meet with bad guys all around the
world every day. That's their job. Maybe to get
information from them, maybe to try and recruit them.

"There are a series of alternative explanations for
why two people like that might meet, and that's what
we don't know."

He went on to suggest that the conclusions drawn from
the information about the Sudan meetings was
indicative of a wider-ranging problem with the
administration's attitude to intelligence on the
alleged Iraq al-Qaida link.

"They take a fact that you could draw several
different conclusions from, and in every case they
draw the conclusion that supports the policy, without
any particular evidence that would meet the normal bar
that analytic tradecraft would require for you to make
that conclusion," he concluded.

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

Posted by richard at July 24, 2003 12:44 PM