A Cautious Man
June 16, 2004
No One Here Knows How it Started
Does anybody remember why we invaded Iraq? Not the myriad reasons touted on cable shout-fests and by bloggering pundits, but the actual, official, legal reason approved by the U.S. Congress? The October 16, 2002 Joint Resolution, the basis for the President proceeding to invade Iraq in March of 2003, required as a condition that the President provide Congress with his determination that -
- acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.With WMDs being scarce, that terrorist connection became even more important to the Administration. Most recently, that was laid out by the Press Secretary:
Q: Why hasn't the administration made more of the U.N. inspectors' report that says Saddam Hussein was dismantling his missile and WMD sites before and during the war? And doesn't that, combined with the now proven al Qaeda link between Iraq -- between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization -- unequivocally make the case for going to war in Iraq?Today, what has been confirmed by the 9-11 Commission? (Link is a .pdf)
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think in terms of Iraq and ties to terrorism, Secretary Powell outlined the former regime's support for and ties to terrorists when he went before the United Nations. Director Tenet has testified in open session before Congress about what we know about those ties. You heard the President talk about some of those ties earlier today in the Rose Garden when he was asked a question. So I think those ties are well known, and we have talked about them previously.
Certainly, when you look at someone like al Zarqawi, he was an individual who was in Iraq prior to the decision to go to war, and he is someone who remains in Iraq. And he is a senior al Qaeda associate.
Q: Is that why you went to war?
MR. McCLELLAN: And -- Helen, I think we spelled out our reasons why we went to war.
Q: I think you did.
MR. McCLELLAN: And certainly ties between the regime --
Q: There were weapons of mass destruction.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- ties between the regime and terrorism was a very serious concern.
Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudenese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.(Emphasis added) No connection whatsoever. When did the U.S. first realize this? Did we ever have any "credible evidence" that they were connected? Did the President ever provide any support for his determination that they were connected, which he was required to do?