Cheney Had No New Data on Saddam, Al Qaeda-Panel

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Sept. 11 commission, which reported no evidence of collaborative links between Iraq and al Qaeda, said on Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney had no more information than commission investigators to support his later assertions to the contrary.

The 10-member bipartisan panel investigating the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington said it reached its conclusion after reviewing available transcripts of Cheney's public remarks on the subject.

The vice president has asserted long-standing links between the former Iraqi president and Osama Bin Laden's Islamist militant network.

"The 9-11 Commission believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9-11 attacks," the commission said in a statement.

Neither commission Chairman Thomas Kean nor Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton were available to elaborate on their panel's statement.

Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems denied any conflict between the commission's finding of no Saddam/al Qaeda relationship and the vice president's position. He described Cheney as being "pleased" about the commission's statement and said the message "put to rest a non-story.

"As we have said all along, the administration provided the commission with unprecedented access to sensitive information so they could perform their mission," said Kellems, who noted that the commission's report was a draft.

"We look forward to reading the commission's final report," he added.

Al Qaeda is blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed about 3,000 people and prompted President Bush to launch his war on terrorism with an invasion that ousted Afghanistan's former Taliban regime.


Assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and could be prepared to provide chemical or biological agents to al Qaeda for attacks on the United States were a main justification for Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq.

No such weapons have been found, and recent opinion polls have suggested growing public skepticism about the Bush administration's reasons for launching a war in which 870 U.S. soldiers have died and nearly 5,400 have been wounded.

The commission called White House claims about links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda into question on June 11, with a staff report that found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between the Iraqi leader and al Qaeda leading up to the attacks.

But Bush and his top aides stood firm, with Cheney forcefully maintaining that evidence depicting an Iraqi role in the Sept. 11 attacks may yet emerge.

"The notion that there is no relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda just simply is not true," Cheney said in an interview with CNBC in which the vice president also suggested he might have more information than the panel.

The New York Times later reported Kean and Hamilton hoped to see any additional information Cheney had on the subject.

As part of the White House response to the Sept. 11 commission's report, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said she believed the panel was actually denying Saddam had control over al Qaeda. Kean and Hamilton flatly rejected her interpretation.

I guess the Iraqis are sorry Saddam is gone, too.

Maybe he ought to be put back in power.

I know you'll appreciate this, too.

EDWARDS: “Well, I think the situation in Iraq is a very serious one. Saddam Hussein hates the United States. He’s been involved in developing weapons of mass destruction. He’s ignored the terms of the cease-fire agreement. He won’t allow the weapons inspectors, our weapons inspectors, into the country. So we have a very serious problem there. And we cannot allow him to continue in this effort to develop and foster weapons of mass destruction. And I think the bottom line is it’s very difficult to imagine a situation where the world is secure, the United States is secure, while Saddam Hussein is still in power. So, I think how we go about it, the timing of how we go about it, our judgments will have to be made when we finish what we’re doing right now. But the reality is, he’s a very serious threat to the security of the United States, to the security of the region and, in fact, to the security of the world.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 1/6/02)

Edwards Said Hussein Was “Obvious And Serious” Nuclear Threat Even If He Had No Weapons Before War. NBC’S TIM RUSSERT: “But if we cannot find the biological or chemical weapons, or evidence of an advanced nuclear program, what was the threat and why did we have to go to war when we did?” SEN. EDWARDS: “The threat was that this was a man who we knew was going to do everything in his power to acquire nuclear capability. And he was a different and distinct, unique kind of threat, because of his history, because of having started a war. We know that over a long period of time we made the effort, whether he, in fact, has them, had them at the time the war began or not, we know that over a long period of time he had been trying to acquire that capability. It is an obvious and serious threat to the stability of that region of the world. And Saddam Hussein, Tim, with nuclear capability, completely changes things.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 11/9/03)

Edwards Not “Misled” In His Belief That Hussein Was Nuclear “Threat.” MSNBC’S CHRIS MATTHEWS: “Let me ask you about – Since you did support the resolution and you did support that ultimate solution to go into combat and to take over that government and occupy that country. Do you think that you, as a United States Senator, got the straight story from the Bush administration on this war? On the need for the war? Did you get the straight story?” EDWARDS: “Well, the first thing I should say is I take responsibility for my vote. Period. And I did what I did based upon a belief, Chris, that Saddam Hussein’s potential for getting nuclear capability was what created the threat. That was always the focus of my concern. Still is the focus of my concern. So did I get misled? No. I didn’t get misled.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 10/13/03)

Before War, Edwards Favored Attacking Iraq With Coalition Of The Willing, Even Without UN, French, Russian Approval; Evidence “Overwhelming.” MATTHEWS: “Would you go it alone in a war against Iraq if the U.N. finally decides not to back us? If the French, the Russians or the Chinese veto us, would you still go ahead and fight this war as the president seems to be heading to doing?” EDWARDS: “I would go forward with the allies that we have with us, yes.” MATTHEWS: “You’d go without the U.N.?” EDWARDS: “Yes.” MATTHEWS: “What’s he doing wrong?” EDWARDS: “With respect to Iraq specifically?” MATTHEWS: “Yes.” EDWARDS: “I think he’s doing the right thing now with respect to Iraq. I think the secretary of state made the case eloquently yesterday at the United Nations. I think Saddam Hussein is a serious threat. He started a war, actually started two wars, he agreed to disarm, it’s the only reason he’s still in power. He’s not disarmed, the evidence is overwhelming. You know this – I spent a lot of time, as you know, in courtrooms. This is a powerful case and an easy case to make. This guy has to be disarmed. He cannot be allowed to get nuclear capability...” MATTHEWS: “Right.” EDWARDS: “... and it requires military action, we should be willing to take military action.” MATTHEWS: “So are you ready to go now to war? Have you got enough evidence as a senator from the United States, from this state, do you have enough evidence to support the United States going it alone right now, Iraq?” EDWARDS: “Going forward with the allies who will support us, yes.” MATTHEWS: “The war with Iraq?” EDWARDS: “Yes, if we have – this man has to be disarmed. If he doesn’t do something to start disarming, then, yes we have to disarm him, and we should be willing to do it militarily.” MATTHEWS: “OK, are you willing to take responsibility for all that entails?” EDWARDS: “Yes.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 2/6/03)

Edwards Would Have Made Case Against Iraq Years Earlier. EDWARDS: “No, I think it’s a combination of two things. One is we didn’t do an effective job in the beginning of making what I believe is a very powerful case for taking out Saddam Hussein and getting...” MATTHEWS: “What would you have done...” EDWARDS: “... rid of his weapons of mass destruction...” MATTHEWS: “... if you’d been president the last two years?” EDWARDS: “I would have done it in the very beginning.” MATTHEWS: “Before 9/11?” EDWARDS: “Oh, yes, absolutely. I would have been – I would have been talking about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and the action that we were considering...” (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: “In other words, you supported going to war with Saddam Hussein before 9/11? You just said that.” EDWARDS: “Would you let me finish?” MATTHEWS: “No, I want you to complete that thought.” EDWARDS: “I will. I have been on the Intelligence Committee for the last couple of years. During that time there’s been increasing evidence that Saddam Hussein in addition to what he’s done in the past, has been in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction.” MATTHEWS: “Right.” EDWARDS: “I think we should have been during that period of time making this case to our allies around the world. Now, the decision about whether to go to war and what action to take and whether in fact we were willing to consider military action...” MATTHEWS: “Right.” EDWARDS: “... that’s something that’s occurred over the course of the last few months.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 2/6/03)

Edwards, Following Service On Intelligence Committee, Supported Iraq Invasion As Necessary To End Hussein’s WMD, Nuclear Threats. CNN’S WOLF BLITZER: “Senator Edwards, you’re the Democrat at this table and you’re the hawk. You early on came in and said there is a clear and present danger from Saddam Hussein and it’s time for the United States to take military action if necessary. But then, later in the week, you seemed to be critical of the president on some other foreign policy issues, the entire approach that he was taking.” EDWARDS: “Well, first, with respect to Iraq, Wolf, my feeling has been as a member of the Intelligence Committee and sitting for month after month listening to briefings about Hussein’s development of weapons of mass destruction, biological, chemical, making every effort he could make to get nuclear capability. I think Chuck [Hagel] is right about this strong vote in the Senate and the House sending a clear signal to the world and strengthening our hand at the U.N. That’s important. But a second issue, an enormously important issue for me, is, I don’t believe we can allow Saddam Hussein to have nuclear weapons. I think that has an extraordinary impact not only on America’s security, Israel’s security, but in fact the stability of that entire region of the world. So, Chuck and I agree completely about the need – and this is what you’ve just made reference to – about the need to go to the U.N., the need to work with our allies, the need to send a clear signal to the world that we’re not just interested in America’s interest, but in fact, we care about the safety, the stability and the security and having a peaceful world.” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 10/13/02)

Edwards Distrusted Hussein Weapons Declarations; “We Cannot Allow [Hussein] To Get Nuclear Weapons.” EDWARDS: “Well, I’m very suspicious about Saddam Hussein, very suspicious in general, very suspicious about this declaration. We’re still in the process of evaluating it. I think we ought to finish that. And I do hope that military intervention will not be necessary. We cannot allow Saddam...” CROWLEY: “But if this paper that you’re looking at does, indeed, prove riddled with omissions and falsities, then we need to go in?” EDWARDS: “We have to disarm Saddam Hussein. We cannot allow him to get nuclear weapons. I’m not going to make a prejudgment about this document. We’re not finished with it yet, and about the level of the seriousness of the breach, if there is a breach. There’s a process that we’re involved in with the U.N. right now. But at the end of the day, I’ve made very clear from the beginning that if it is necessary, we should be willing to use military force to make sure that this man does not get nuclear weapons.” (CNN’s “Inside Politics,” 1/2/03)

Edwards “Knew” That Iraq Had Biological And Chemical Weapons, And Was An Increasing Nuclear Threat. EDWARDS: “We know that he has biological, we know that he has chemical. And I was listening to Putin talk just a minute ago. We also know that every single day that goes by he’s increasing the likelihood of having nuclear capability.” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 10/13/02)

Edwards Saw Hussein As “Enormous Threat To Us.” EDWARDS: “Because I think we know this man is an enormous threat to us, to the people in that region. And we know that every single day – we can’t be certain about what our intelligence tells us. I mean, we don’t have accurate information about where he is in the development of nuclear weapons, but we know he’s doing everything in his power to get them. And if, Wolf, he’s able to buy this fissile material, the raw material on the black market, he could be six to nine months from having nuclear weapons.” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 10/13/02)

Edwards Warned Hussein “Already Has Biological And Chemical Weapons” And Was A Potential Nuclear Threat. EDWARDS: “I agree with the president that we cannot allow Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons. He already has biological and chemical weapons, and I think he’s a very serious threat to America, to Israel, to that entire region of the world. I think what we should do is work through the U.N., get a response – hopefully, we’ll get a strong resolution from the U.N. – and, in the meantime, continue to work with our allies all over the world to build some international consensus. And I think doing what the president’s doing tonight, going to the American people and laying out the case for why this action is necessary or why action is necessary, is also important.” (Fox News’ “The Big Story With John Gibson,” 10/7/02)

Edwards Supported Giving President Authority To Deal With Hussein And His WMD. EDWARDS: “Well, I think what he’s asking for is that he have the authority to do what he needs to do to deal with Hussein and – and his weapons of mass destruction, biological, chemical and potentially nuclear. And if that requires regime change, then – then we would give him authority to do that. And I think that I will happen, by the way.” (NBC’s “Today,” 9/20/02)

Edwards Supported “Making Every Effort” For U.N. Resolution, But Wouldn’t Be Bound By That. EDWARDS: “Well, I don’t know, Katie. I think we’re making every effort to get a resolution for the United Nations. I think that’s a good thing. I think we need to make a serious, legitimate effort to do that. But at the end of the day, we can’t be bound by that. We need to work with whatever allies we can – we can bring to this proposition and take the action that needs to be taken.” (NBC’s “Today,” 9/20/02)

Edwards Said America Should Not Be “Bound By What The United Nations Does.” FOX NEWS’ JOHN GIBSON: “Senator Edwards, have you become convinced that the Congress should give President Bush a resolution to act in Iraq?” EDWARDS: “Yes, I think the Congress needs to act and act as quickly as possible. We need to send a clear signal that we’re willing to -- as a nation that we are united to take the steps necessary to -- all the steps necessary to rid the world of the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.” GIBSON: “Do you think that the president should act, even if the United Nations does not grant him permission?” EDWARDS: “Oh, I don’t think we should be bound by what the United Nations does. I mean, we should do everything in our power to try to get the United Nations resolution. We should do everything in our power to try to build an ally – a group of allies and a coalition to support what it is we’re doing. But, at the end of the day, this is something that we have to show leadership on.” (Fox News’ “The Big Story With John Gibson,” 9/19/02)

Edwards Supported Action Against Iraq Regardless Of Any Ties To 9/11. EDWARDS: “But I think, separate and apart from 9/11, we have Saddam Hussein, a man who invaded another country, who started a war in 1991, who lost the war, and has, since that time, flaunted numerous, what, 16, 17 U.N. Security resolutions. He’s got weapons of mass destruction. He’s trying to get nuclear capability. This is a very serious situation, and I think it’s incumbent on us to take the action necessary to rid the world of this threat.” (Fox News’ “The Big Story With John Gibson,” 9/19/02)

Edwards Believed Military Intervention Would Be Necessary to Disarm Iraq. FOX NEWS’ JOHN GIBSON: “Do you believe there will be a military action or that Saddam Hussein will back down in some way, the inspectors will go back, and disarmament can occur without our acting militarily?” EDWARDS: “Well, disarmament is the goal, and that’s the place we’re trying to get to. You know, this is a man who’s lied consistently in the past and shown a complete willingness to flaunt the international community. His history certainly gives us no indication that he’s going to go about this weapons inspection regime in any kind of serious way. So the answer is I seriously doubt that a weapons inspection effort is going to be successful. I suspect a military intervention will be required.” (Fox News’ “The Big Story With John Gibson,” 9/19/02)
Edwards Called Iraq “The Most Serious And Imminent Threat To Our Country.” EDWARDS: “I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country. And I think they – as a result, we have to, as we go forward and as we develop policies about how we’re going to deal with each of these countries and what action, if any, we’re going to take with respect to them, I think each of them have to be dealt with on their own merits. And they do, in my judgment, present different threats. And I think Iraq and Saddam Hussein present the most serious and most imminent threat.” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 2/24/02)
Edwards Said Hussein “Continuing To Develop And Proliferate Weapons Of Mass Destruction.” EDWARDS: “I think that a lot of us, including myself, believe that the regime change in Iraq is going to be necessary, given what’s happened with Saddam Hussein, his not letting the weapons inspectors in, continuing to develop and proliferate weapons of mass destruction. We can’t let this continue. We are going to have to do something.” (CNN’s “Wolf Blitzer Reports,” 2/15/02)

Edwards Said American People Know Saddam Was Direct Threat. EDWARDS: “I think the American people should, particularly considering what happened on September 11, understand that what happens half a world away has a direct impact on their lives. I think they’ve been very supportive of this war on terrorism. I think they’ll be supportive of whatever action is necessary with respect to Saddam Hussein. Most Americans know who Saddam Hussein is. They understand that he is a menace and they understand that he is a direct threat not only to them and to the interests of the United States, but to our allies in that region.” (CNN’s “Wolf Blitzer Reports,” 2/15/02)
Edwards Believed That Hussein Was “In Fact Developing WMD”; “We Know He’ll Use Them.” EDWARDS: “The first issue you mentioned was Iraq. I actually believe that as long as we have somebody this hostile to the United States in Saddam Hussein, who is in fact developing weapons of mass destruction – we know he’ll use them; he’s violated the cease-fire agreement – the reality is that we can’t allow him to continue on the track he is. And I also believe that we can’t be secure and the region can’t be secure as long as he’s still in power.” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 1/13/02)
Bill Clinton Was Right

I guess you missed this

There was a Saddam-Osama connection and we're learning more every day.
by Stephen F. Hayes

NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO, in the introduction to an hour-long PBS documentary called Saddam's Ultimate Solution, former Clinton State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said:

"Tonight, we examine the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Ten years after the Gulf War and Saddam is still there and still continues to stockpile weapons of mass destruction. Now there are suggestions he is working with al Qaeda, which means the very terrorists who attacked the United States last September may now have access to chemical and biological weapons."

The documentary, broadcast on July 11, 2002, laid out in exhaustive detail alleged Iraqi connections with al Qaeda. Rubin noted in his introduction that the report contained "disturbing allegations, some of which are hard to prove." But, he added, such allegations "are important enough to be fully explored and investigated."

Last week, appearing on a cable talk show as a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of John Kerry, Rubin sharply criticized the public official who has most forcefully asserted that these allegations need to be fully explored and investigated. Rubin went so far as to question Vice President Dick Cheney's "fitness for office." Rubin, asked about the documentary, then distanced himself from the film. "Was I the producer of the documentary?" he asked. "I was the host, producing--having a discussion about the documentary."

Fair enough. Rubin is right that as host he is not necessarily responsible for everything in the hour-long program. Among the claims made by investigative filmmaker Gwynne Roberts was this one: "My investigation reveals much more--namely evidence of terrorist training camps in Iraq and testimony that al Qaeda fighters have been trained to use poison gas." But on the PBS program, Rubin spoke in a manner that suggested he did, in fact, believe the evidence presented by Roberts, pressing one interview subject about the possibility of Saddam's passing weapons of mass destruction to "the al Qaeda people in the film he's already trained."

Meanwhile the men at the top of the administration Rubin worked for--Bill Clinton and Al Gore--have come down with an even more striking case of political amnesia.

On June 24, Katie Couric interviewed President Clinton on NBC's Today Show. She asked, "What do you think about this connection that Cheney, that Vice President Cheney continues to assert between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?" Clinton pleaded total ignorance. "All I can tell you is I never saw it, I never believed it based on the evidence I had."

The same day, former Vice President Al Gore went much further in a vitriolic speech at Georgetown University law school. "President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. If he is not lying, if he genuinely believes that, that makes them unfit in battle against al Qaeda. If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick."

Gore also distorted the significance of the recent 9/11 Commission Staff Statement. He called the statement an "extensive independent investigation by the bipartisan" 9/11 Commission that found "there was no meaningful relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda of any kind." In fact, three 9/11 Commission sources tell The Weekly Standard that the one paragraph of the staff statement about the relationship was not intended to be a definitive pronouncement on the issue. In any case, "no meaningful relationship" was never the view of the Clinton/Gore administration.

On February 17, 1998, President Clinton, speaking at the Pentagon, warned of the "reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals." These "predators of the twenty-first century," he said, these enemies of America, "will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen. There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

Later that spring, the Clinton Justice Department prepared an indictment of Osama bin Laden. The relevant passage, prominently placed in the fourth paragraph, reads:

Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the government of Iraq.

Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. attorney involved in the preparation of the indictment, testified before the 9/11 Commission. He said the intelligence behind that assertion came from Jamal al Fadl, a former high-ranking al Qaeda terrorist who before the 9/11 attacks gave the U.S intelligence community its first intimate look at al Qaeda. According to Fitzgerald, al Fadl told his interrogators that bin Laden associate Mamdouh Mahmud Salim (Abu Hajer al Iraqi) "tried to reach a sort of agreement where they wouldn't work against each other--sort of the enemy of my enemy is my friend--and that there were indications that within Sudan when al Qaeda was there, which al Qaeda left in the summer of '96, or the spring of '96, there were efforts to work on jointly acquiring weapons."

Several months later, after al Qaeda bombed two American embassies in East Africa, numerous Clinton officials cited an Iraq-al Qaeda connection as the basis for retaliatory U.S. strikes against the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.

On August 24, 1998, the Clinton administration made available a "senior intelligence official" who cited "strong ties between the plant and Iraq." The following day, Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of state for political affairs and one of a handful of Clinton officials involved in the decision to strike al Shifa, briefed foreign reporters at the National Press Club. He was asked directly whether he knew "of any connection between the so-called pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum and the Iraqi government in regard to production of precursors of VX" nerve gas.

Yeah, I would like to consult my notes just to be sure that what I have to say is stated clearly and correctly. We see evidence that we think is quite clear on contacts between Sudan and Iraq. In fact, al Shifa officials, early in the company's history, we believe were in touch with Iraqi individuals associated with Iraq's VX program.

Five days after that, U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson appeared on CNN and pointed to "direct evidence of ties between Osama bin Laden" and Sudan's Military Industrial Corporation. "You combine that with Sudan support for terrorism, their connections with Iraq on VX, and you combine that, also, with the chemical precursor issue, and Sudan's leadership support for Osama bin Laden, and you've got a pretty clear-cut case."

Sandy Berger, then Clinton's national security adviser and now a top adviser to the Kerry campaign, made the connection in an October 16, 1998, op-ed in the Washington Times. "To not have acted against this facility would have been the height of irresponsibility," he argued. The Clinton administration had "information linking bin Laden to the Sudanese regime and to the al Shifa plant."

Berger explained that al Shifa was a dual-use facility. "We had physical evidence indicating that al Shifa was the site of chemical weapons activity," Berger wrote. "Other products were made at al Shifa. But we have seen such dual-use plants before--in Iraq. And, indeed, we have information that Iraq has assisted chemical weapons activity in Sudan."

Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism official under both Clinton and Bush, confirmed this in an interview with the Washington Post on January 23, 1999. Clarke said the U.S. government was "sure" Iraq was behind the VX precursor produced at the factory. The story continued, "Clarke said U.S. intelligence does not know how much of the substance was produced at al Shifa or what happened to it. But he said that intelligence exists linking bin Laden to al Shifa's current and past operators, the Iraqi nerve gas experts, and the National Islamic Front in Sudan."

More recently, former Clinton defense secretary William Cohen affirmed the Baghdad-Khartoum connection in testimony before the September 11 Commission on March 23, 2004. Cohen told the panel that an executive from al Shifa had "traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of the VX program."

Many of these same officials now disclaim any knowledge of an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. Daniel Benjamin, a top counterterrorism official on Clinton's National Security Council, makes the strongest case that intelligence cited by Clinton officials did not amount to a direct Iraq-al Qaeda connection. Benjamin has pointed out that it is unclear that the Iraqis knew the chemical weapons technology they provided to the Sudanese Military Industrial Corporation would end up in the hands of al Qaeda or that al Qaeda knew that the assistance it was receiving came from Iraq.

But now the New York Times--a newspaper heretofore dismissive of the Iraq-al Qaeda connection--has revealed the contents of an Iraqi Intelligence document that discusses the Iraq-bin Laden "relationship" and plans for bin Laden to work with Iraq against the ruling family in Saudi Arabia. The document states that "cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement." The Iraqi document, which refers to the period of the first Clinton term, has been "authenticated by the U.S. government," according to the front-page story in Friday's Times.

Taken together with other evidence of the close relationship between al Qaeda and the Sudanese government, the information in the Times article makes it less likely that Iraq and al Qaeda were unwitting allies. The Times reported that a representative of the Sudanese government approached the Iraqis at bin Laden's behest: "The Iraqis were cued to make their approach to Mr. bin Laden after a Sudanese official visited Uday Hussein, the leader's son, as well as the director of Iraqi Intelligence, and indicated that Mr. bin Laden was willing to meet in Sudan."

Virtually no one disputes the significant overlap between the government in Sudan and al Qaeda. As President Clinton said last week, in an interview on CBS: "Mr. [Hassan] al Turabi, the head of the Sudanese government, was a buddy of bin Laden's. They were business partners together."

According to al Fadl, the close associate of bin Laden who has cooperated with the U.S. government since 1996, bin Laden himself said his businesses were run in support of the government in Sudan. Al Fadl, testifying at the trial of al Qaeda terrorists who plotted the 1998 embassy bombings, recalled in broken English a 1992 conversation he had with bin Laden. "He say our agenda is bigger than business. We not going to make business here, but we need to help the government and the government help our group, and this is our purpose."

Al Fadl and other high-level al Qaeda detainees have described the group's relationship with Sudan in detail. The relationship included: al Qaeda terrorists assigned by the Sudanese government to assassinate political opponents; al Qaeda's providing communications equipment and arms--"Kaleshnikovs"--on behalf of Defaa al Shabi, a division of the Sudanese Army fighting Christians in southern Sudan; training exchanges--going both ways--between Sudanese intelligence and bin Laden's group; and Sudanese intelligence providing perimeter security for al Qaeda training facilities and safehouses.

Concerns that Iraq would work with al Qaeda against the Saudis did not end when bin Laden left Sudan in 1996. According to a CIA report summarized in a top-secret memo sent from the Pentagon to the Senate Intelligence Committee in the fall of 2003: "The Saudi Arabian National Guard went on a kingdom-wide heightened state of alert in late Dec 2000 after learning that Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S. and U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia."

So the Clinton administration, based on the evidence it had, was right to express concerns about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection. We now know more. And given the vast number of documents from the former Iraqi regime that sit untranslated, we are certain to learn more still. It's an odd time for the former president and his old advisers to be backing away from what they once so confidently told us.

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard. Parts of this article are drawn from his new book, The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America (HarperCollins).
Apparently Bill Clinton’s administration any many of his party believed Saddam had WMD. They must have passed this information along to the Bush administration when they turned over the government, right?

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.

"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998.

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998.

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998.

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999.

"There is no doubt that . Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, Dec, 5, 2001.

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
Sen. Carl Levin (d, MI), Sept. 19, 2002.

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seing and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002.

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002.

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years . We also should remember we have alway s underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Jay Rockerfeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002,

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. "[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ...
Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003
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