President Bush, speaking recently to reporters, said, “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in September 11.” That’s what reporters wanted to hear. That enables the media and their allies in the Democratic Party to claim that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with al-Qaeda.
But it’s not the truth. There is abundant evidence of an Iraq link to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Several times we have cited Judge Harold Baer’s ruling in May that a link between Iraq, al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks was demonstrated through evidence presented in his courtroom. Another such lawsuit has now been filed in this regard, on behalf of the family of John O’Neill, a former top agent of the FBI killed in the attacks. The 70-page complaint says that, “Al Qaeda, backed by Iraq, carried out the September 11th terror attacks with the financial and logistical support of numerous individuals and organizations.”
The new best-selling book, Losing Bin Laden, by Richard Miniter, mentions this evidence and much more. A ten-page appendix cites evidence of such a link going back to 1993. An investigative journalist who worked for the Sunday Times of London, Miniter states categorically that Iraqi intelligence trained al Qaeda operatives at a terrorist camp southeast of Baghdad on how to hijack planes with knives. They practiced on a full-size Boeing 707. But this isn’t just his opinion. An Iraqi defector went public with information about this camp after 9/11 in interviews with public television and the New York Times. U.S. troops took over the facility during the war in early April. Satellite photos showed the plane on the ground.
Why wouldn’t the President want to acknowledge this evidence? Miniter hints at the answer in his book, noting a report that Israeli intelligence met with CIA and FBI officials in August of 2001 warning of possible Iraqi involvement in “an imminent large-scale attack on the U.S.” If the President acknowledged an Iraqi link to al Qaeda and 9/11, that could lead to more press inquiries about what the administration knew about this connection before 9/11.
The subtitle of Miniter’s book is “How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror.” But 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch?many months into the Bush presidency. Ironically, Bush has pursued a policy that seems designed to hold Saddam and al Qaeda responsible for 9/11 but he does not want to cite the evidence that ties them together. His vice-president, Dick Cheney, began to do this on NBC’s Meet the Press, noting that one of the participants in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had fled to Baghdad after being released by the FBI. That bombing is seen by some experts as one of many attacks on the U.S. carried out by al Qaeda and Iraq, culminating on 9/11.
Bush may be reluctant to cite this evidence because he was burned so badly by the press over citing a still-valid British charge that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. Rather than make a charge of Iraqi cooperation with al Qaeda and face a media feeding frenzy over demands for the evidence, the President has decided to avoid the subject.