Bonfire of the vagaries

Tony Snow on the "relationship" that never was but still won't go away.


Tim Grieve
September 13, 2006 12:00AM (UTC)

The Senate Intelligence Committee said unequivocally last week that Saddam Hussein's regime "did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. So, as Think Progress asks today, why is White House press secretary Tony Snow still saying that such a relationship existed?

Well, let's let the man speak for himself. From today's press briefing:

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Snow: The president has never said that there was a direct operational relationship between the two. And this is important.

Zarqawi was in Iraq ... And there was a relationship in this sense: Zarqawi was in Iraq. Al-Qaida members were in Iraq. They were operating, and in some cases operating freely. From Iraq, Zarqawi, for instance, directed the assassination of an American diplomat in Amman, Jordan.

But did they have, you know, a corner office at the Mukhabarat? No. You know, were they getting a line item in Saddams budget? No.

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There was no direct operational relationship, but there was a relationship. They were in the country. And I think you understand that the Iraqis knew they were there. Thats the relationship.

Reporter: Saddam Hussein knew they were there. Thats it for the relationship?

Snow: Thats pretty much it.

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Reporter: The Senate report said they didnt turn a blind eye to that.

Snow: The Senate report -- rather than get -- you know what? I dont want to get into the vagaries of the Senate report.

Vagaries? Let's try this again. The Senate Intelligence Committee said that Saddam Hussein's regime "did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

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And if knowing that a person is in your country means that you've got a "relationship" with him? Well, then, perhaps Mr. Snow can explain to us how the CIA and the State Department didn't have relationships with 9/11 hijackers whom they knew had been in the United States.


Tim Grieve

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

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