The Vice Prevaricator Dick Cheney keeps on presenting new reasons that he and the Bush neocons set up the invasion of Iraq after each former reason he's put forward is shot down. He's now trying out the spin that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda. I've read the Osama bin Laden thought Saddam was a bad Muslim. Moreover, there's no way that Saddam's ego and survival instincts would have let al Qaeda set up freely in Iraq to possibly threaten him. Terrorists are indeed in Iraq, now, thanks to the Bush-Cheney crowd's obsession with Saddam and their extraordinary mishandling of the occupation. They fueled the recruitment roles and created a power vacuum. The following excerpt is from the Washington Post by Dana Milbank on June 15, 2004.
"As Bush asserted that Iraqis would decide the fate of Hussein and Sadr, he also renewed an assertion that Hussein had longstanding ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network, one of the justifications underpinning the Iraq war. The alleged link between Hussein and al Qaeda has taken on more importance with the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Vice President Cheney, outlining al Qaeda's activities in various countries, said in a speech in Orlando on Monday that Hussein "had long-established ties with al Qaeda." Bush, asked yesterday if he would qualify that claim or cite evidence to support it, defended Cheney's assertion, citing the terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi.
"Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to al Qaeda," Bush said during his appearance with Karzai. "He's the person who's still killing. Remember the e-mail exchange between al Qaeda leadership and he, himself, about how to disrupt the progress toward freedom?"
Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, runs his own terrorist network, al Tawhid, which has been active in Iraq. In October 2002, Bush described Zarqawi as a "very senior al Qaeda leader."
This February, in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, CIA Director George J. Tenet described Zarqawi's network among other groups having "links" to al Qaeda but with its own "autonomous leadership . . . own targets [and] they plan their own attacks." Although Zarqawi may have cooperated with al Qaeda in the past, U.S. officials say it is increasingly clear he had been operating independently of Osama bin Laden's organization.
The e-mail exchange that Bush referred to yesterday was Zarqawi's January 2003 letter to bin Laden lieutenants, intercepted at the Iraqi border. Zarqawi said that if al Qaeda adopted his approach in Iraq, he would swear "fealty to you [bin Laden] publicly and in the news media." 06.16.04