Saturday, July 26, 2003

Regarding that Iraq-al-Qaida Link Not In The 9/11 Report

Thursday, I posted a UPI story that gave specific instances in which the absence of such a link between Iraq, Saddam, and al-Qaida was discussed with great specificity.

Yesterday, UPI posted what they call "a corrected and updated version" of that story.

What seems to have happened - the purported parts of the report that dealt with the absence of evidence of a link between Iraq and alQaida had been sourced by Max Cleland, a member of the non-partisan 9/11 Commission, which had given him access to the congressional joint committee report.

Cleland's material gave UPI a scoop and they went with it. The report as relesed the next day, although there was no material indicating such a link, except for the odd sentence there was no explicit discussion either of a link, of the lack thereof.

The story now centers on Senator Cleland's accusation that the White house deliberately dragged it's feet on vetting the report out of fear that its findings would undercut their case for war with Iraq.

"The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out," he said.

"Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration."


Although the committee completed its work at the end of last year, publication of the report has been delayed by what one committee staffer called "vigorous discussion" with administration officials over which parts of it could be declassified.

The 800-page report -- 50 pages of which were censored to protect still-classified information -- was published Thursday.


Many of the censored pages concern the question of support for al-Qaida from foreign countries. Anonymous officials have told news organizations that much of the still-classified material concerns Saudi Arabia, and the question of whether Saudi officials -- perhaps acting as rogue agents -- assisted the 19 men, 15 of whom were Saudis.

Inquiry staff would not comment to UPI about the issue, but one did say that the section contained references to "more one country."

Prior to the report's publication, a person who had read it told UPI that it showed U.S. intelligence agencies had no evidence linking Iraq to the 9-11 attacks or to al-Qaida. In fact, the issue is not addressed in the declassified sections of the report.

One other person who has seen the classified version of the document told UPI subsequently that the Iraq issue is not addressed in the still-classified section, either. "They didn't ask that question," the person said.

They report; we'd like to decide, except the reporting is so unclear.

If I still don't have this straight, all corrections, or any additional information about the disappearing non-link are gratefully encouraged