Since the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-grandstanding, non-partisan 9/11 commission announced today that "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States," all the anti-war people, various lefties, and the "What did Iraq have to do with terror?" Democrats (see Colmes, Alan) will be trumpeting this one line out of a long report until we can't stand it anymore. Hell, I already can't stand it.
As the great Sean Hannity would say, though, "Let not your heart be troubled." First of all, there is a great deal of evidence that al Qaeda and Saddam's government met many times looking to work against the United States. Saddam was clearly harboring and assisting terrorists, as evidenced by the guys we captured last year and by the well-known fact that Saddam was paying Palestinian suicide bombers. And of course, there's that meeting in Prague between Atta and one of Saddam's underlings that Czech intelligence insists took place. Liberals like to dismiss that pointing to the CIA's dismissal of it. It's interesting, though, that this is the ONLY thing that's come out of the CIA in the last 4 years (maybe even the last 40) that liberals will believe unequivocally.
Cox and Forkum have an extremely informative post (which is better than the comic this time, in my opinion; no offense guys) about all this and point to Dennis Hastert's statement on the subject:
We don't have evidence that Saddam Hussein helped plan the attack on September 11th, but we do have plenty of evidence that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden shared a similar view of the United States and were exploring ways to develop closer ties. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are cut from the same cloth. One leads a terrorist organization, while the other led a terrorist government.
He's right, of course, but there's more to it. Cox and Forkum
are on that, so read their post, and then make sure you read their two links to Instapundit
on the same subject, reproduced here
My local radio host today was focused on a different subject relating to the commission, namely the "Why did Bush keep reading to elementary schoolers when the country was clearly under attack?" As a caller wisely pointed out, we don't know exactly what Bush was told at the time (though some new reports have been much more definitive than they really should be) and it's likely he was just told that "A plane hit the World Trade Center." Now, I know when I heard that, the first thing I thought of was the B-25 that accidentally flew into the Empire State Building in 1945. There was quite a bit of damage, but nothing that constituted a national emergency, nor anything that compromised the building's structure. I would imagine that this scenario is what popped into Bush's mind and that's why he didn't feel it was necessary to leave. However, I don't know if this is true or not and if anyone knows definitively that Bush was told that the country was CLEARLY under attack and he decided to stay, then not only would I like to hear it, but then some serious questions need to be asked. (Of course, that still wouldn't make me vote for Kerry, nor convince me that he's serious about the War in any way.) The problem here, that another caller alluded to, is that we're looking back at this through glasses tinted by September 11th. Of course the President should have realized we were under attack and of course he should have dropped everything and of course everyone should have realized this and that. But nothing like this was even imagined in our national consciousness. Rudy Giuliani pointed this out in the last round of hearings and he's absolutely right. General Meyers had a pithy comment when he paraphrased Tom Ridge saying, "We have to be right every time, but the terrorists only have to be right once." I think the value of this commission is more in the history and in plugging any holes we might still have rather than the out and out finger-pointing it has become.
Unfortunately, it's looking more and more like the report form the 9/11 Commission is going to be compromised by the partisanship and "gotcha" games the proceedings have been plagued by. From Benveniste berating Condolezza Rice to the Gorelick memo, to today's statement and all the finger-pointing based on 20-20 hindsight, I have to wonder if this report is going to reveal much of anything. Something tells me we'll have to wait for history to sort it all out.