25 July 2003

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

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 learned.

"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and 9-11," 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.

I seem to remember being told that Iraq should be invaded, without UN sanction, because 1. they possessed weapons of mass destruction, 2. they were allied to al-Qa'ida, 3. the Iraqi WMDs were likely to be passed to terrorists.

The WMDs existed or they did not. Any WMDs which did exist have not been found. If they did exist then we have to assume they are now in the hands of terrorists and that is very bad news. If they did not exist the coalition of the willing was built on a lie.

Now we learn, from the US Congress that there was never any evidence for the Saddam/al-Qa'ida link.

They told us about Nigerien yellowcake and we now know that is untrue.

They told us about aluminium tubes and we now know that is untrue.

They told us about poison camps and (because no such camp has ever been found) we now know that is untrue.

They told us about trailers of mass destruction and we now know that is untrue.

They told us about the link to al-Qa'ida and we now know that is untrue as well.

The other thing they told us was that action was urgent because of the clear and serious danger.

Was anything they told us true?

The conclusion fast becoming inescapable is that the only danger was that the tapestry of lies was about to fall apart before they could fight their war, a war to which most senior figures in the Bush administration had been committed long before 11 September 2001. It follows the Bush administration exploited the death of almost 3000 people from 14 nations in a grab for power. Blood exploited for spin.

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