Friday, September 12, 2003

Wolfowitz's Flip Flops


WASHINGTON – The Pentagon's No. 2 official retreated Friday from his assertion that key lieutenants of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden are plotting with Saddam Hussein loyalists to kill Americans in Iraq.

In television and newspaper interviews on Thursday's anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said hundreds of fighters from al-Qaeda and other groups are now in Iraq. Wolfowitz also said "a great many" bin Laden operatives were trying to link up with remnants of Saddam's regime to attack Americans.

"We know it (Iraq) had a great deal to do with terrorism in general and with al-Qaeda in particular, and we know a great many of bin Laden's key lieutenants are now trying to organize in cooperation with old loyalists from the Saddam regime to attack in Iraq," Wolfowitz said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"There are some thousands of former Baathists (members of Saddam's Baath Party) and some hundreds of al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists who are ... killing Americans and Iraqis and U.N. officials and moderate Shiite leaders in order to destabilize Iraq," Wolfowitz said in an interview with The Washington Post.

But Wolfowitz – an architect of U.S. policy in Iraq – said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press that he had misspoken.

He said U.S. military forces were still trying to identify foreign fighters flowing into Iraq and whether they are collaborating with Saddam loyalists resisting the U.S.-led occupation forces.

UPDATE: Calpundit points out the obvious - that the retraction will be seen by a couple of orders of magnitude fewer people than the original. I knew that - I'm just still puzzled about the fact the he actually had to issue an official retraction at all. That hasn't been SOP for a long time.