Yes, but will he belong in the 9/11 Commission?
No question: Paul Krugman is the worst former Enron adviser in history, and other gems in Opinion Journal, but first, today’s top story:
The NY Times reports that the 9-11 Commission says “there did not appear to have been a “collaborative relationship” between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein”, despite evidence of repeated contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda in the 90’s.
¶Terrorist training camps run by Al Qaeda were “apparently quite good” and “the camps created a climate in which trainees and other personnel were free to think creatively about ways to commit mass murder.”
¶While there is no credible evidence of collaboration between Mr. bin Laden’s network and Iraq, there is extensive evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and the fundamentalist Islamic leaders of Iran, including possible collaboration in the 1996 bombing of an apartment building in Saudi Arabia in which 19 Americans were killed.
Tenet has never backed away from these assessments. Senator Mark Dayton, a Democrat from Minnesota, challenged him on the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in an exchange before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 9, 2004. Tenet reiterated his judgment that there had been numerous “contacts” between Iraq and al Qaeda, and that in the days before the war the Iraqi regime had provided “training and safe haven” to al Qaeda associates, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi. What the U.S. intelligence community could not claim was that the Iraqi regime had “command and control” over al Qaeda terrorists. Still, said Tenet, “it was inconceivable to me that Zarqawi and two dozen [Egyptian Islamic Jihad] operatives could be operating in Baghdad without Iraq knowing
Czech intelligence stands by its report on the meeting between Atta and an Iraqi agent. Barcepundit realizes that the Commission’s reaching their conclussions about “no credible evidence” based on testimony by “Two Ben Laden associates” that “have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq”.
But the report will be quoted; even The Guardian (hardly a member of the vast right-wing-conspiracy-crowd) is talking about the report.
Instapundit has a good number of points on the subject, including a link to Tacitus‘s
Note that we don’t know that Ba’athist Iraq actively rejected the proposal — there’s simply no evidence of followup. Which should tell us three things: First, that all those claiming that the “secular” and religious fanatics of the Muslim world would never consider working together are now definitively shown wrong. Actually, they were before, as any observer of the Palestinian and Iraqi guerrilla movements would have noted: so let’s just call this a nail in that coffin. Second, that the idea that knocking out the aforementioned “secular” autocracies of the region does not deprive our Islamist enemies of props, refuges and allies just suffered a serious blow. Which, again, those of us arguing that the social pathologies of the region constitute a unified whole already knew. Third, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It’s something that I doubt most of those reveling in schadenfreude over this news will bother to acknowledge.
Chrenkoff points out that, while the commission’s report “cited a photograph taken by a bank surveillance camera in Virginia showing Mr. Atta withdrawing money on April 4, 2001, a few days before the supposed Prague meeting on April 9, and records showing his cell phone was used on April 6, 9, 10 and 11 in Florida” as evidence that Atta didn’t make the Prague meeting,
There are a few small problems with that:
1) how is Atta’s withdrawing money from an ATM on April 4 the evidence that he was still in the US five days later, on April 9?
2) the phone records show his cell phone was used in Florida – unfortunately they don’t show who actually used the phone. When he withdrew money on April 4, Atta was traveling with his roommate, Marwan Al-Shehhi. How can authorities be sure that Atta didn’t leave his cell phone with Al-Shehhi or another associate?
My guess is that the Commission’s waiting for a video of Saddam flying one of the planes into the WTC — as long as Saddam didn’t leave his cell phone at home with Baghdad Bob.
Meanwhile, the media’s not talking about the video from the days when Saddam Hussein’s thugs ruled Abu Ghraib prison.
Update: Iraq & al Qaeda: The 9/11 Commission raises more questions than it answers
First, it cannot be true both that the Sudanese arranged contacts between Iraq and bin Laden and that no “ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq.” If the first proposition is so, then the “[t]wo senior Bin Laden associates” who are the sources of the second are either lying or misinformed.
Roger‘s also asking questions.