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Jason Holliston
Thursday, June 17, 2004  
9/11 Commission and Iraq

I had pretty much written off the 9/11 Commission a while ago as being a platform for partisan attacks, and not doing their job: figuring out what went wrong and making recommendations on how to minimize the chances of something like that ever happening again. They've shown again and again that they are much more interested in scoring political points than fixing things (unless you call "getting President Bush out of office" as fixing things, which I don't). So, I wasn't surprised when I saw them at it again today.

As the LA Times titles its article, "No Signs of Iraq-Al Qaeda Ties Found". That pretty much sums up how the press is reporting the Commission's finding. Now, even though ties between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda have never been used as one of the many reasons for liberating Iraq, the anti-war camp has been vocal about it, saying over and over again that no ties existed. Now the 9/11 Commission "confirms" it with a wave of its bureaucratic hand, even though there is ample evidence that they did, in fact, have ties at some levels.

Here's the deal: when I can judge from the information that I read -- a citizen with no extraordinary access to gathered intelligence -- and find that at most, there was deep ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, and at least, informal, "non-aggression" agreements, how am I supposed to take these proceedings seriously?

Thankfully, the President isn't letting this stand without a rebuttal:

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."

He's not the only one. British and Czech Republic intelligence also insist upon the tie: they have from the beginning of this whole mess, and haven't backed off yet from their initial statements. Not to mention the Clinton Administration's accusations of the same thing, found in the original indictment of Osama bin Laden back in 1998. For an excellent, detailed review of the Commission's sweeping statement absolving Saddam of any connection, read Andrew C. McCarthy's column today.

So, how am I supposed to give the 9/11 Commission credit any longer? It was probably too much to hope for, and impossible from the beginning, to think that these people would largely put aside politics for the national good. As Victor Davis Hanson pointed out a while ago, could you imagine a Pearl Harbor Commission in 1943, instead of trying to bolster our defenses, using the opportunity to try to bring down the FDR Administration in the middle of WWII? I can't either.

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