A 9/11 Commission staff report supports the Bush Administration’s longstanding conclusion that there was no evidence of” collaboration” between Iraq and al-Qaeda on the 9-11 attacks against the United States. The Administration has said, however, that it was worried about a number of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, including contacts between senior Iraqi intelligence officers and senior members of al-Qaeda. The Commission’s investigation does not dispute that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda occurred.
We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
The Administration also knew that Iraq was harboring a terrorist network headed by Zarqawi. Zarqawi, the senior al-Qaeda associate who was known to be in Baghdad for medical treatment in , continues to undertake indiscriminate acts of terrorism today. The Administration knew Saddam had longstanding, direct, and continuing ties to a number of terrorist groups, including groups responsible for killing Americans.
On Thursday, both President Bush and the 9/11 Commission’s Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton commented on press reaction to this 9/11 Commission staff report:
“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda, in the Sudan. There’s numerous contacts between the two.” – President George W. Bush,
“I must say I have trouble understanding the flack over this. We don’t disagree with that. What we have said is. we don’t have any evidence of a cooperative, or a corroborative relationship between Saddam Hussein’s government and these al-Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States. So it seems to me the sharp differences that the press has drawn, the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me.” – Lee Hamilton, 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman,
President Bush and Vice President Cheney said yesterday that they remain convinced that Saddam Hussein’s government had a long history of ties to Al Qaeda, a day after the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported that its review of classified intelligence found no evidence of a” collaborative relationship” that linked Iraq to the terrorist organization.
The vice president is saying, I think, that there were connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s government
Mr. Bush, responding to a reporter’s question about the report after a White House cabinet meeting yesterday morning, said:”The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda” is”because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.”
He said:”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. There’s numerous contacts meaningful hyperlink between the two.”
Last night Mr. Cheney, who was the administration’s most forceful advocate of the Qaeda-Hussein links, was more pointed, repeating in detail his case for those ties and saying that The New York Times’s coverage yesterday of the commission’s findings”was outrageous.”
“They do a lot of outrageous things,” Mr. Cheney, appearing on”Capital Report” on CNBC, said of the Times, referring specifically to a four-column front page headline that read”Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie.” Mr. Cheney added:”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.”.
. The report found that there did not appear to have been a “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and the terrorist network.