Senate report: no relationship between Saddam, Al Qaeda

Friday, September 08, 2006 at 05:06 PM

Phase II of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on intelligence on Iraq is out, issued on a Friday as is usual with reports you want to keep out of the news.

Among the incredibly dry, "committee-ese" writing, according to the Voice of America, is the unequivocal conclusion that "before U.S. and allied forces invaded, the Saddam Hussein regime did not, in the words of the report, have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates."

Let the spin begin.  According to VOA:

The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation has sparked intense partisan battles on Capitol Hill, with Democrats charging Senate Pat Roberts, the Republican chairman, with deliberately slowing down the probe.

Senator Roberts has strongly denied these allegations.  Statements by committee Democrats, he said in a written statement Friday, are little more than a rehashing of the same unfounded allegations they've used for over three years.

White House spokesman Tony Snow took the same approach, repeating the argument that Democrats had access to the same intelligence the Bush administration had prior to military action in 2003.

Frankly, I think the Republican spin is going to be a tough sell this time around, given the mood on Iraq and Republicans, generally, combined with the many, many recent attempts by the White House and friends to sell the now-repudiated idea that Saddam and Al Qaeda were connected, and that Saddam and 9/11 was connected.

The second part of the report also confirms what so many thinking people have long known/suspected.  As reported by one television station:

A second part of the report concluded that false information from the Iraqi National Congress, an anti-Saddam group led by then-exile Ahmed Chalabi, was used to support key US intelligence assessments on Iraq.

It said US intelligence agents put out numerous red flags about the reliability of INC sources but the intelligence community made a "serious error" and used one source who concocted a story that Iraq was building mobile biological weapons laboratories.

The report also said that in 2002 the National Security Council directed that funding for the INC should continue "despite warnings from both the CIA, which terminated its relationship with the INC in December 1996, and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), that the INC was penetrated by hostile intelligence services, including the Iranians." WMD.   No Saddam-Qaeda connection.  No Saddam-9/11 connection.  Reliance on intelligence from self-serving expatriates which was widely suspected of being phony. No welcoming as heroes.  No spreading of democracy as far as can be seen. What's left, fight them there instead of at Wal Mart?

If you have the stomach for the arid prose, you can read the entire report yourself.  Issued in two parts, the report covers:

  1. "Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How they Compare with Prewar Assessments"(151 pages)

  2. "The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress"] (211 pages)