Saturday, September 09, 2006

No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda

There was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda as the Senate Intel Committee Report released yesterday revealed. Tony Snow Job wants to say it's all old news, but as recently as August 21st, Bully Boy was explicitly making the link. Not implying. Not, as a guest on The KPFA Evening News yesterday stated, implying it merely by doing a sentence on 911 and then following up with a sentence on Saddam Hussein.

Bully Boy is asking for prime time coverage (a bit like his demand that his statement this week be covered -- and didn't the networks cave on that too -- live) during the hideous 9-11 mini-series. If you're "The Linker" (which he -- "the decider" is laughable) you want that primetime space to once again trot out your lies.

Busy day and I was hoping to do only one entry this morning -- so it figures the New York Times would assign the story on the Senate Intel Report to Mark Mazzetti who remains one of their worst. How bad is it? With far less words, Matt Fry managed to convey the importance of the report last night on the BBC and you can combine Sidney Blumenthal's words with Fry (Blumenthal gave commentary on the BBC) and still not reach anywhere near Mazzetti's word count but still be more informed.

There was no link. We'll come back to the point but start off with another point, one that's not being noted in any of the (domestic) press I'm seeing.

Let's start with Blumenthal. (Presumably, Blumenthal will write about this for the Guardian of London and/or Salon. When that happens we'll link to it.) Blumenthal focused on the section of the report dealing with the Iraqi National Congress. One of the suppliers of "evidence" for the Iraqi National Congress only provided information under torture. He also recanted his statements when the torture ceased.

This is in the second part of the Senate Intel Committee Report (which currently doesn't display online, probably due to web traffic).

Now we'll return to the fact that there was no link. From yesterday's snapshot:

Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."

To it's credit, AP later did begin noting the statement and the Washington Post does today. Martha's highlight, Jonathan Weisman's "Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War" (Washington Post):

As recently as Aug. 21, Bush suggested a link between Hussein and Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed by U.S. forces this summer. But a CIA assessment in October 2005 concluded that Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates," according to the report.
"The president is still distorting. He's still making statements which are false," said Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), an intelligence committee member.

Here's Mazzetti's version of coverage, half of paragraph five and all of six:

But one report did contradict the administration's assertion made before the war and since, that ties between Mr. Zarqawi and Mr. Hussein's government provided evidence of a close relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
As recently as Aug. 21 Presdeint Bush said at a news conference that Mr. Hussein "had relations with Zarqawi." But a C.I.A. report completed in October 2005 concluded instead that Mr. Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or even turn a blind eye toward Zarqwi and his associates," according to the new Senate findings.

And it was concluded before then as well and it was called out yesterday by Carl Levin but Mazzeti seems to suffer from David Gregory Disease -- chief sympton: irrational hatred for Democrats which leads not only to on air siding with Republicans but repeating their spin. [See next entry for that.] If Levin's comments were false or were not so obviously true, chances are the Times would have noted them. Here, they ignore them.

The same way they ignore reality in Jesse McKinley's laughable "Democrats Still Pushing ABC to Pull Film on 9/11" which can't quote John Kerry, but can give you eight lines of a statement by Conservative Voice, a right-wing blog. What else can't McKinley do? He can't quote any blog other than a right-wing one. One that's far up in the story as opposed to Hillary Clinton's remarks which are news. Reporters have been trying to get her to go on record and she's avoided them. She spoke of the laughable mini-series (it's not a "film") at Columbia University and that's included after eleven paragraphs, Conservative Voice is mentioned in paragraph five and quoted at length in paragraph six. That passes for balance apparently.

The press wanted a quote from Hillary. McKinley finds one and buries it.

The fear roll out for the November elections does matter. The mini-series is crafted to be part of that and now the Bully Boy plans to give a speech on the second night. Not on the first, because he needs the destructive visuals if he really wants to scare a nation into voting GOP. I love how some who've jerked off all summer now want to dismiss the importance of the mini-series. They've covered the Austrian kidnap victim and what? The passing of the 2500 mark of American military fatalities in August? Nope. Iraq falling apart? Nope. Well, wow.

They have enriched a nation. Now they want to dismiss the mini-series. ABC's big worry, right now, is that people aren't going to watch. That was always a concern. Films on the subject haven't been box office. They knew that. They were willing to go forward with the costly mini-series. It's obvious that greenlight wasn't based on a desire to set down history. (That's almost as laughable as attempts to urge you to e-mail John Bryson to stop the mini-series.) [Rebecca's discussed the mini-series in "the mouse that purred for the bully boy" and Kat in "The al-Maliki Shuffle" -- those aren't "partisan" views. Only in the Times does left equate Clintonista.] Bully Boy's fall roll out gets hours of prime time, plus his speech. It does matter. The only danger is that the talk will turn it into some sort of "We must watch it" -- similar to the way talk turned American Psycho into a best seller. The same network that isn't interested in airing party conventions (it didn't begin with 2004 unless you're foolish enough to believe that in 1988, ABC had to break in with a "late breaking" Hart to Hart repeat) is happy to be part of the fall roll out.

On August 9th, John Stauber appeared on KPFA's The Morning Show and wondered if the die hards who look reality in the face but still proclaim "There were WMDs" would benefit from a Times headline proclaiming: "No WMD Found in Iraq"? That's plain spoken, so it would never be a headline in the paper. "C.I.A. Said To Find No WMD in Iraq" would be a headline. It would allow everyone who needs to lie to themselves to say, "Well, that's just what the CIA said." Today's headline works in the same way.

But there is no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. From Greg Miller's "Senate: Hussein Wasn't Allied With Al Qaeda" (Los Angeles Times):

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday said it had found no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda or provided safe harbor to one of its most notorious operatives, Abu Musab Zarqawi -- conclusions contradicting claims by the Bush administration before it invaded Iraq.

Mazzetti (New York Times), as always, is concerned with the CIA and misses the report and the Democratic statements. One point he makes more strongly:

The C.I.A. report also directly contradicted claims made in February 2003 by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who mentioned Mr. Zarqawi by name no fewer than 20 times during a speech to the United Nations Security Council that made the administration’s case to go to war. In that speech, Mr. Powell said that Iraq "today harbors a deadly terrorist network" headed by Mr. Zarqawi, and dismissed as "not credible"’ assertions by the Iraqi government that it had no knowledge of Mr. Zarqawi’s whereabouts.

More strongly, but not strongly. Mazzetti's referring to the 2005 report. Powell's claims were refuted much earlier than 2005. Weisman (Washington Post):

But, as [Olympia] Snowe emphasized in her statement, the report concluded that information provided by an INC source was cited in that estimate and in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations as corroborating evidence about Iraq's mobile biological weapons program. Those citations came despite two April 2002 CIA assessments, a May 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency fabrication notice and a July 2002 National Intelligence Council warning -- all saying the INC source may have been coached by the exile group into fabricating the information.

From The Third Estate Sunday Review's "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (Ava and I wrote this review of Powell's laughable remarks):

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is it?
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's painful now.

It should be a lot more "painful" but when Mazzetti's so quick to offer up 2005 as the first rebuke, it probably goes down quite a bit easier. It's also part of the roll out for Bully Boy to try to get ahead of everything which is why he wants the prime time during the mini-series to address the nation. It's part of the fear campaign and it does matter.

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