As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

This won't come as news to anyone in the blogosphere, but the result of reviewing 600,000 Iraqi documents found that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Period.

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam's regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

The new study of the Iraqi regime's archives found no documents indicating a "direct operational link" between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.

The Iraq-Al Qaeda link was cultivated through hundreds of the 935 false statements the Bush Administration made in the run-up to war. Without it, there would be no pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq, no case made to the public that both wars represented the same fight against terrorism.

Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld claimed in September 2002 that the United States had "bulletproof" evidence of cooperation between the radical Islamist terror group and Saddam's secular dictatorship.

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited multiple linkages between Saddam and al Qaida in a watershed February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council to build international support for the invasion. Almost every one of the examples Powell cited turned out to be based on bogus or misinterpreted intelligence.

As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq. "The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims," he said.

Where did all this now-discredited "evidence" come from? From whom was this bogus "intelligence" gathered? From those suspects who were tortured by the CIA.

Intelligence failures had much to do with the atrocity of September 11, but those had nothing to do with a lack of torture. Let me be clear on one crucial point: it is the terrorists whom we won over with humane methods in the 1990s who continue to provide the most reliable intelligence we have in the fight against al-Qaeda. And it is the testimony of terrorists we tortured after 9/11 who have provided the most unreliable information, such as stories about a close connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. I never regret that the FBI didn't abuse its detainees. Had we done so, we would have had much less reliable intelligence, and we would have been morally debased. By instituting a policy of torture in the years following 9/11, we have recruited thousands to al-Qaeda's side. It has been a tragic waste.

It is not just that torture is a dehumanizing and a debasing act, a recruiting poster for our enemies, and something that makes our own troops less safe. It's that the information extracted as a result is completely unreliable. But of course that's the point. Bogus intelligence making the President's case for war is, to the Administration, the best intelligence money can buy.

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