They do a lot of outrageous things


Geraldine Sealey
June 18, 2004 7:29AM (UTC)

Dick Cheney, speaking on CNBC, complained about the New York Times' coverage of the 9/11 panel's disputing an alleged al-Qaida/Saddam relationship: "The press wants to run out and say there's a fundamental split here now between what the president said and what the commission said."

"They do a lot of outrageous things," Cheney said about the press. Let's see how outrageous it is to conclude that the commission's findings contradict the president's -- and Cheney's -- statements about Saddam and al-Qaida.

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Here's what the president said Thursday: "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and Al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of Al Qaeda in the Sudan."

Here's how the commission staff statement described the Sudan meeting: "A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded."

So, Bush and the commission did both say there was a meeting in Sudan. Cheney's right, there was no "split" on that point. But that's where the similarities end. The commission pointed out that Bush's prime example of "contacts" between Saddam and al-Qaida resulted in ... nothing. Iraq rejected bin Laden's overtures.

Who's being "outrageous" here?


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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