The media effort to undermine the rationale for the war in Iraq has taken an interesting twist. Faced with the release of government documents indicating a substantial connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Newsweek has tried its best to dismiss or distort the evidence.
The controversy involves an article in Newsweek magazine’s Periscope, called “A Special White House Slide Show,” revisiting the issue of a meeting in Prague, Czechoslovakia in April of 2001 allegedly involving Muhammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 terrorists who crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The meeting allegedly was with an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmed al-Ani, and if true, could provide a strong link between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq government and al-Qaeda, and even indicate possible involvement by Saddam in the horrific terrorist act of 9/11.
Newsweek said that in 2002, the Pentagon had produced three sets of slides?one version for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, one for CIA director George Tenet, and one for the White House, each as part of a report showing alleged ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.
In the White House presentation, according to Newsweek’s sources, there was a slide that wasn’t part of the others, suggesting that the Atta meeting had, in fact, taken place. It gave specific details of the alleged visit, including one reference that al-Ani ordered an Iraqi intelligence officer to “issue funds to Atta.”
But Newsweek couldn’t accept this and dismissed the explosive information. Its sources were four “former senior intel officials who monitored investigations into Atta’s alleged Iraqi contacts?” and who were anonymous. They were said to have “rejected” the “anecdote” about the payoff, though it doesn’t say why they rejected it.
Who are these officials? Are these the officials who falsely told Newsweek that the Koran had been flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay? If so, Newsweek needs some new sources.
There was another document to which Newsweek linked, titled “High-Level Contacts, 1990-2002.” It listed meetings between bin Laden and Faruq Hijazi, the Deputy Director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, Newsweek obtained these documents. They demonstrate that top U.S. officials not only had evidence of links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, but evidence of a link between Iraqi intelligence and the top 9/11 terrorist.
But Newsweek didn’t want to believe what was in these documents. So it found some anonymous officials who didn’t trust the information and tried to cast doubt on them.
As we have noted previously, the links between Saddam and al Qaeda did exist. And they existed before the Bush Administration, most notably in the 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden by the Clinton administration.
But the media today are so anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War that they cannot accept any such evidence, even when they obtain what appear to be smoking gun documents under the Freedom of Information Act.