Rumsfeld doubts Saddam Laden link
October 4, 2004 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Rumsfeld doubts Saddam Laden link US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has cast doubt on whether there was ever a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
posted by hoder (38 comments total)
*ahem* Rumsfeld has cast doubt on whether there was ever a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda? Or the lack of a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda has cast doubt on whether there was ever a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda?

But I know what you mean. This is interesting not because of what is being said but because of who is saying it.
posted by louigi at 8:07 PM on October 4, 2004

Okay, is that officially the very last person who contended that there was any relationship between Hussein and al-Qaeda? Great, thanks. Can you hit the lights on your way out, Don?
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:09 PM on October 4, 2004

Now all he needs to do is build a time machine, travel back to 2002...
posted by arto at 8:23 PM on October 4, 2004

I wonder if Dick Cheney will stick to the Iraq--Terrorism connection in the next debate...
posted by Stuart_R at 8:26 PM on October 4, 2004

Cheney presses Hussein-Qaeda link
(boston globe, 10/3)
The phrases vary. Some days, Vice President Dick Cheney says Saddam Hussein had "long-established" ties to Al Qaeda. Other days, he says the former Iraqi dictator "had a relationship" with the terrorist group.

But the underlying message remains unchanged -- Cheney plants the idea that Hussein was allied with the group responsible for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

posted by amberglow at 8:30 PM on October 4, 2004

The Bush administration has managed to make September 11th tacky. There's nothing more shameful than that.
posted by interrobang at 8:34 PM on October 4, 2004

If he really meant what he said, it suggests that the Bush administration is in the process of retreating from previously held positions.

Think about the implications.
posted by stbalbach at 8:35 PM on October 4, 2004

One thing that I consistently find odd are the people who, even given the mountain of evidence before the war that an Al Qaeda-Saddam collaboration was unlikely, unfeasable, and unproven, continued to make that assertion, even as more and more evidence arose that such connections were minimal at best and disproven substantially at worst. Now we've had several administration figures say that there were no connections, even though it would be politically expedient to stress a connection... and those same folks are still clinging to that notion. The MeFi brigades that have supported that assertion all along are not backing down, I'm sure.

What is it? An inability or unwillingness to separate different types of Arab facists?
posted by cell divide at 8:43 PM on October 4, 2004

Meanwhile, via LGF....
posted by iamck at 8:50 PM on October 4, 2004

I think it is more of a Mccoy issue, cell divide. I've met plenty of conservative folk (though certainly not all) and it seems that some people will disagree with another person even if they know they are wrong. It is not really about knowing it, a person may be subconsciously blocking information that stands against their convictions.

Unfortunately, there is a wealth of valid and pertinent information that is casting a negative light over reelecting our current president. Now, don't get me wrong, there are good things to say about him too. Either way, depending on who you are and what you believe, you will notice and mentally accentuate specific points along the way. This Diehard belief structure, no matter which side of the fence, is inherently foolish and self destructive.

Could someone tell me who the hell is cnsnews? I have never heard of them.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:12 PM on October 4, 2004

KS: It's a product of the Media Research Center, a quick perusal of which should tell you all you need to know. And oh: score one for me.
posted by dhartung at 9:21 PM on October 4, 2004

CNS, yes... aren't they a "news for hire" service for neocons?

I should hope that Chalabi has been able to fabricate at least SOME documents to support the war by now... it's been what, 16 months? Take 16 months at $350K a month and eventually you'll see results!
posted by clevershark at 9:50 PM on October 4, 2004

Now, don't get me wrong, there are good things to say about him too

I'd be hard pressed to name two.
posted by The God Complex at 10:05 PM on October 4, 2004

Could someone tell me who the hell is cnsnews? I have never heard of them.

"The Cybercast News Service was launched on June 16, 1998 as a news source for individuals, news organizations and broadcasters who put a higher premium on balance than spin and seek news that’s ignored or under-reported as a result of media bias by omission.

Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets – bias by commission and bias by omission – that results in a frequent double-standard in editorial decisions on what constitutes 'news.'"

posted by weston at 11:06 PM on October 4, 2004

Sounds pretty honest: Focus on news that is conservative. Then again, welcome to the spin zone.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:45 AM on October 5, 2004

"To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." -Cheney's current statement

As a side note, this quote seems to prove that any one at a press conference will put "to my knowledge" or something similar before everything they say, just to avoid making a strong statement. "To my knowledge, Washington was the first president of the US". "To my knowledge, the ocean contains water".
posted by hoborg at 6:25 AM on October 5, 2004

"To my knowledge, the ocean contains water".

Better be able to back that up, punk.
posted by jalexei at 6:43 AM on October 5, 2004

Not so fast, you little snarkmonsters... "Talking points once again blot out reality... film at eleven..."
posted by JollyWanker at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2004

We should all practice our deep breathing and try to appreciate the very Zen nature of this administration.

first there is a mountain. then there is no mountain. then there is.

posted by Otis at 7:20 AM on October 5, 2004

Wow. That's the "Iraq--Terrorism" and "We don't Flip Flop" talking points even further discredited.
posted by Stuart_R at 7:58 AM on October 5, 2004

Yeah, this is all fascinating in the run-up to Cheney's big moment tonight, in terms of how he's gonna be able to spin his way out of it. I know he's a master at it, but I hope Edwards is watching all these latest developments and cramming hard. Oh, and speaking of which...
posted by soyjoy at 9:29 AM on October 5, 2004

Somebody had better put duct tape over Rummy's fat mouth before he gets into Santa Claus.
posted by troutfishing at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2004

Not that I personally have enough info to agree or disagree, but it's worth reading:

"There was a Saddam-Osama connection and we're learning more every day."

A shiny nickel to anyone who reads the entire series of articles & posts an intelligent response instead of screeching "Weekly Standard, OMFG!!! LOL". Prediction: nofundy will not be 5 cents richer today.
posted by dhoyt at 11:07 AM on October 5, 2004

DHoyt, I read the one article you linked to--I don't know what you mean by "series of articles" in your post, as your link goes to a stand-alone two-page article entitled "Bill Clinton Was Right".
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2004

Prediction: nofundy will not be 5 cents richer today.

dhoyt, defender of the little guy in his own mind, continues his gratuitous cheap shot extravaganza.
posted by y2karl at 11:54 AM on October 5, 2004

Okay, now for my nickel:

1) It is entirely possible that both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush could be wrong, isn't it?

2) The argument Hayes makes strikes me as poorly constructed. He offers as "evidence" for his argument that Clinton believed that there was a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda the following paragraph:

On February 17, 1998, President Clinton, speaking at the Pentagon, warned of the "reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals." These "predators of the twenty-first century," he said, these enemies of America, "will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen. There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

I've read this several times, and I don't see how the idea of a "link" between any two given participants in the "unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers, and organized international criminals" can be drawn from this statement. It's not implied in the syntax at all. To say that, for example, Iraq has connections to Libya, which has connections to Saudi, which has connections to al-Qaeda is not the same thing at all as saying that Iraq has direct links to al-Qaeda.

If this is the best evidence Hayes can marshal to support a contention that Clinton believed that there was a link between the Hussein government and al-Qaeda, it's damn poor.

3) Hayes's contention that some individuals and departments within the Clinton administration argued for a direct connection between the Hussein government and al-Qaeda is somewhat better supported. He quotes, for example, this passage from a 1998 Justice Department indictment of Osama bin Laden--Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq. (I find his comment that this was "prominently placed in the fourth paragraph" a bit odd, but without seeing the original document, it's hard to evaluate whether the placement was, indeed, prominent. My own experience of indictments is that the fourth paragraph is generally waaaayyyy into the thing and not where one is likely to put the socko lead.)

My opinion, upon reading this, is that I'm not any more convinced by the 1998 Justice Department contention than I was by the 2002 Department of Defense contention.

4) Hayes contends that there were, in his words, "numerous Clinton officials" who "cited an Iraq-al Qaeda connection as the basis for retaliatory U.S. strikes against the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan." However, Hayes does not give even one example of a Clinton official citing an Iraq-al Qaeda connection.

Instead, he gives examples of Clinton officials discussing Iraq-Sudan and al Qaeda-Sudan connections separately. Hayes does not provide any evidence to support his claim that Clinton officials connected Iraq and al-Qaeda--rather, he simply reiterates several occasions on which Clinton officials connected each, separately, to Sudan.

5) Finally, Hayes's concluding paragraph is fascinating in the light of current events. He writes:

So the Clinton administration, based on the evidence it had, was right to express concerns about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. We now know more. And given the vast number of documents from the former Iraqi regime that sit untranslated, we are certain to learn more still. It's an odd time for the former president and his old advisers to be backing away from what they once so confidently told us.

Now that the current president and his old advisors are "backing away from what they once so confidently told us"--and, unlike the Clinton administration, the Bush administration told us of a direct connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq, repeatedly, and from people at the very top of the Administration--one wonders what Hayes's point of view on this is.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:07 PM on October 5, 2004

Ax grinding personal grudge prompts belittling of member not participating in thread. News at 11.

On point:

CIA review finds no evidence Saddam had ties to Islamic terrorists

A new CIA assessment undercuts the White House's claim that Saddam Hussein maintained ties to al-Qaida, saying there's no conclusive evidence that the regime harbored Osama bin Laden associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

The CIA review, which U.S. officials said Monday was requested some months ago by Vice President Dick Cheney, is the latest assessment that calls into question one of President Bush's key justifications for last year's U.S.-led invasion of Iraq....

Apparently referring to al-Zarqawi, the defense secretary said Monday: "I just read an intelligence report recently about one person who's connected to al-Qaida who was in and out of Iraq and there's the most tortured description of why he might have had a relationship and why he might not have had a relationship."...

There's no dispute that al-Zarqawi spent time in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, but virtually all that time was in a portion of northeastern Iraq that wasn't under Saddam's control.

Some officials believe that Saddam's secular regime kept an eye on al-Zarqawi, an Islamic extremist, but didn't actively assist him.

Al-Zarqawi 's ties to al-Qaida are in dispute. While he clearly shares much of al-Qaida's violent ideology and ran an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan, the Jordanian has his own organization, acts independently and hasn't sworn fealty to bin Laden.

posted by y2karl at 12:11 PM on October 5, 2004

I don't know what you mean by "series of articles" in your post,

Sorry, I thought his relevant articles were all linked together. There is also this:

Not so long ago, the ties between Iraq and al Qaeda were conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom was right.

And this:
The 9/11 Commission and the media refuse to see the ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

And an interview.

PS, Karl: if that qualifies as a "cheap shot" instead of a "joke", I can only imagine the number of time you must spend combing through all the threads that insult ParisParamus, Witty & Seth in conversations in which they are not participating. DAILY. I can provide you with about a hundred examples, if necessary. Let's not start this vendetta again.
posted by dhoyt at 12:15 PM on October 5, 2004

How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader believed to be responsible for the abduction of Kenneth Bigley, is 'more myth than man', according to American military intelligence agents in Iraq. Several sources said the importance of Zarqawi, blamed for many of the most spectacular acts of violence in Iraq, has been exaggerated by flawed intelligence and the Bush administration's desire to find "a villain" for the post-invasion mayhem.

US military intelligence agents in Iraq have revealed a series of botched and often tawdry dealings with unreliable sources who, in the words of one source, "told us what we wanted to hear. We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," the agent said.

"Back home this stuff was gratefully received and formed the basis of policy decisions. We needed a villain, someone identifiable for the public to latch on to, and we got one."...

No concrete proof of the link between Zarqawi and bin Laden was offered until US officials this year trumpeted the discovery of a computer disk, allegedly intercepted by Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas. Among its files was an apparent draft of a letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden. "We will be your readied soldiers, working under your banner, complying with your orders and indeed swearing fealty to you publicly and in the news media," the letter read. That seemed proof enough for the US government. "Zarqawi is the best evidence of the connection to al-Qa'eda affiliates and al-Qa'eda," Mr Bush said in June.

But senior diplomats in Baghdad claim that the letter was almost certainly a hoax. They say the two men may have met in Afghanistan but it appeared they never got on and there has been a rift for several years. One diplomat claimed that there was evidence to suggest that Zarqawi's aides may have passed on information to the Americans that led to the arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of the main planners of the September 11 attacks.

posted by y2karl at 12:26 PM on October 5, 2004


Then do please provide examples from yesterday where Witty, Paris Paramus and Seth were belittled in threads in the blue in which they did not participate.
posted by y2karl at 12:30 PM on October 5, 2004

Re: cheap shots at people not participating in the conversation:

If it's not good when someone takes a cheap shot at [X], it's not good when someone else takes a cheap shot at [Y].

I think that y2karl's "Film at 11" comment was meant to say that this happens all too often. I've never noticed y2karl doing this, dhoyt--the fact that some of the people who do do it might share his political views doesn't make it wrong for y2karl to comment on it here.

Isn't that the very definition of "groupthink"--it's okay for "us" to do it because "they" did it first?

Will read those other Hayes articles, which were not linked on that page, and respond in a bit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:32 PM on October 5, 2004

Read the other Hayes articles. They didn't have any new or substantive information that I could see. In the first article, Hayes makes much of a supposed "smoking gun"--that there was a name on the list of the Fedayeen Saddam that was a lot like the name of a man with suspected al-Qaeda ties.

By the second article, the similar name has become "the same name", and even though Hayes himself acknowledges that this is pretty goddamned flimsy:

It's possible, of course, that there is more than one Ahmed Hikmat Shakir.

[NB: Hayes doesn't mention here that the name on the list of Fedayeen Saddam isn't "Ahmed Hikmat Shakir"--rather, it's a name that could conceivably be "Ahmed Hikmat Shakir", as he discussed in his earlier article.

Basically, what Hayes is saying here is "It's possible, of course, that there could be more than one man named "John Francis Smith"--given that the suspected terrorist was named "John Francis Smith" and the name on the Fedayeen Saddam list was "Jon F. Smith".]

And even if the Shakir listed as an officer of the Saddam Fedayeen is the same Shakir who was present at the 9/11 planning meeting, it does not mean that the Iraqi regime helped plan or even had foreknowledge of those attacks.

But how can the 9/11 Commission staffers dismiss any potential Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks without even a mention of Ahmed Hikmat Shakir?

I'll answer this: because there's no more evidence linking the Fedayeen Saddam officer with the suspected terrorist than there is evidence linking the author of this article with Stephen Hayes, the producer of the 2004 movie "Drop Dead Sexy", or Steven Hayes, who appeared in the 1995 TV movie "Crazy for a Kiss".
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:58 PM on October 5, 2004

Sidhedevil: you get two nickels! Good response(s).

karl: you get a lump of coal ;) If you want a laundry list of the aforementioned "cheap-shots" made by others, feel free to email me. I'll expect to see you rebuke them in a similar fashion each time it happens.
posted by dhoyt at 1:14 PM on October 5, 2004

So dhoyt, you've posted three articles all from the Weekly Standard and all from the same author Stephen F. Hayes. Not one of these refutes Rumsfeld's statement yesterday that there was no "Direct Evidence" linking al-Qaeda and Saddam. Even Rumsfeld refuting himself today doesn't appear to change his statement about "Direct Evidence" but merely raised once again the spectre of "links" and "ties".

So lets take a look at one of these:
Iraq aided Sudan + Sudan supported Al-Qaeda = Al Qaeda + Iraq.

If you don't see how flimsy this is lets look at it another way:
US aided Pakistan + Pakistan supported Al-Qaeda = Al Qaeda + US.

Great! We now know that the US has "links" to Al Qaeda...right? This is why circumstantial evidence is so tricky and to date we really haven't seen anything better.

So...maybe old Rummy had it right in the first place...still no direct evidence.
posted by aaronscool at 1:23 PM on October 5, 2004

dhoyt, you can keep the nickels--it would just remind me that I did this instead of the actual work for which I am billing an actual client $85/hour. Being $42.50 behind feels better, somehow, than only being $42.40 behind.

Actually, I appreciate the links quite a bit--I had meant to read Hayes's book, but after reading the three articles and seeing how much is recycled from one to another, I'm thinking I may quit while I'm ahead.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:29 PM on October 5, 2004

I'll expect to see you rebuke them in a similar fashion each time it happens.

Fuck that shit. Well, other guys do it--why don't you bust them for it is a bullshit excuse, especially coming from you. You've appointed yourself the Conscience of MetaFilter. If you preach--you practice. You have made gratuitous unprovoked remarks about nofundy more than once--that is a personal grudge showing and has nothing to do with pile ons or sticking up for the little guy.

If you are going to be a perpetual metananny, your little white apron must remain pristine and spotless. Keep a clean uniform, please.
posted by y2karl at 3:09 PM on October 5, 2004

Say what?
posted by dhoyt at 3:31 PM on October 5, 2004

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