iraq & al-qaeda - Campus Activism

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iraq & al-qaeda - Campus Activism

page 3 iraq & al-qaeda campus antiwar networkbe connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But—I'm willing to say it, butwhat's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence." This clear example ofdisregard for the truth in favor of politically expedient misinformation istypical of the Bush administration's tactics in justifying the war on Iraq.One of the only pieces of "evidence" ever offered for an Iraq-al-Qaedaconnection was an alleged meeting between "9/11 mastermind" Mohamed Attaand a supposed Iraqi spy, said to have occurred in Prague on April 9, 2001. Bushadministration officials used this to claim that Iraq had helped finalize plans forthe 9/11 attacks. In fact, there's no reason to think this meeting ever took place—but the Bush administration continued to repeat it long after this becameclear.In early 2002, Czech President Vaclav Havel had told the Bushadministration that there was no evidence the meeting had ever occurred. 6Thiswas backed up by US intelligence agencies, which thoroughly examined Atta'stravel records before concluding that during the period in question he wasprobably in Virginia Beach, not Prague."We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked everyrecord we could get our hands on," FBI Director Robert Mueller said in April2002. He was explaining that neither his agency nor the CIA could find anyevidence whatsoever of the meeting's ever having taken place—or even thatAtta ever left the US. 7Despite these refutations, anonymous administration officials continued toreference the meeting when talking to right-wing reporters like William Safire,and senior hawks like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz hyped thestory long after the Czech president had dismissed it.But for the most part, the Bush administration abstained from providingactual "evidence" of any sort for a connection between Hussein and al-Qaeda.Instead, they seemed to believe that if they asserted the connection oftenenough, the mainstream media would report it as fact—and they were largelyright.campus anti-war network iraq & al-qaeda page 4Widespread misinformation was regularly encouraged by statement suchas the following, made by Bush during the State of the Union Address:"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements bypeople now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists,including members of al-Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he couldprovide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop theirown."But William Rivers Pitt (of truthout.org) explained, "The idea thatHussein has connections to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists is laughable—he isa secular leader who has worked for years to crush fundamentalist Islam withinIraq, and if he were to give weapons of any kind to Al Qaeda, they would usethose weapons on him first." 8The Bush administration aimed their deception at Congress as well as thegeneral public. Just days before Bush's national speech on Oct. 7 2002, theWhite House gave Congress a "White Paper" on Iraq containing excerpts fromthe National Intelligence Estimate—but not the sections refuting the WhiteHouse story on al-Qaeda. 9Greg Thielmann, who retired in September from hispost of director of the strategic, proliferation and military affairs office in theState Department's bureau of intelligence and research, explained: "Some of thefault [for faulty information about Iraq and al-Qaeda] lies with theperformance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the waysenior officials misused the information they were provided." 10Secretary of State Colin Powell even refused to include most of theadministration's al-Qaeda "evidence" in his UN address. When he saw the draftprepared for him by Vice President Dick Cheney's aides, he threw several pagesin the air, declaring, "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit." 11But this didn'tstop Cheney from saying (without any evidence at all), on March 16—just fourdays before the war began—"[W]e know that [Saddam Hussein] has a longstandingrelationship with various terrorist groups, including the Al Qaedaorganization." 12

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