The path to Iraq

Even after reports from the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rice and Cheney insist on linkage between Iraq and al-Qaida.

Published September 11, 2006 1:14PM (EDT)

CIA assessment, June 2002: ". . . the ties between Saddam and bin Laden appear much like those between rival intelligence services, with each trying to exploit the other for its own benefit."

Defense Intelligence Agency report, February 2002: "Iraq is unlikely to have provided bin Laden any useful [chemical and biological weapons] knowledge or assistance."

CIA assessment, January 2003: "Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are far from being natural partners."

George W. Bush press conference, February 2003: "Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al-Qaida. Iraq has also provided al-Qaida with chemical and biological weapons training. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network, headed by a senior Al Qaida terrorist planner."

Dick Cheney interview, June 2004: "There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials."

George W. Bush press conference, June 2004: "Zarqawi is the best evidence of [Saddam Hussein's] connection to al-Qaida affiliates and al-Qaida. He's the person who's still killing. He's the person -- and remember the email exchange between al Qaida leadership and he, himself, about how to disrupt the progress toward freedom?"

The 9/11 Commission Report, July 2004: "The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al-Qaida in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."

Senate Intelligence Committee report, September 2006: "Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."

Dick Cheney interview, Sept. 10, 2006: "Youve got Iraq and al-Qaida, testimony from the director of CIA that there was indeed a relationship, Zarqawi in Baghdad, etc."

Condoleezza Rice interview, Sept. 10, 2006: "The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, gave that very testimony, that, in fact, there were ties going on between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein's regime going back for a decade. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission talked about contacts between the two. We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq. We know that Zarqawi ordered the killing of an American diplomat in Jordan from Iraq. There were ties between Iraq and al-Qaida."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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9/11 Al-qaida Dick Cheney Iraq Middle East War Room