Why Americans Believe There Was an Al Qaeda/Iraq Link
Posted by Mary
Palamedes, one of the Truth Squad researchers, spent some time digging up why Americans came to believe there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam even though there never was real proof to back up this belief. It was a careful and concerted months-long program that was conducted by the White House along with the media, some who were more than happy to sell this line to the public. One of the more interesting aspects of this propaganda war is how often a news item declared definitively: "there is a link" to be followed by another news item from a source like the CIA saying, "there is no proof of a link". Nevertheless, after more than a year of constant repetition asserting a link, the American public solidly believed the lie as the country went to war.
Check out the record:
11/20/01 BWC II: U.S. Accuses Counties of Violating BWD
The United States charges several nations with violating the Biological Weapons Convention states that the al-Qaeda terrorist network had tried to acquire biological weapons, possibly with state assistance.
11/26/01 Threat Assessment: States Help Terrorist Seek WMD
"There is no question [Iraq] sponsors terrorism," said Charles Duelfer, who from 1993 until last year was a top leader of the U.N. special commissions that probed Iraq for evidence of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
"There is no doubt that they are pursuing weapons of mass destruction," Duelfer continued. "Are you then going to trust [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein, with his track record, and believe that he wouldn't share his weapons of mass destruction with terrorists who would use them? Weapons that, quite conceivably, could never be traced back to Baghdad?"
11/30/01 Iraq: U.N. Sanctions, Adds Import Controls
Meanwhile, debate has continued in the United States and among its allies about the wisdom of focusing on Iraq as the next stage of the war on terrorism. The Bush administration appears to be preparing to widen the war beyond Afghanistan, according to the Economist. "Afghanistan is just the beginning of the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated," U.S. President George W. Bush said last week. Earlier this week he demanded that Iraq allow weapons inspectors to return or face unspecified consequences (see GSN, Nov. 27).
1/24/02 Iraq: Remove WMD Threat, Strategists Say
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein poses a serious threat to U.S. security and the United States must act decisively and quickly to remove him from power, policy experts Robert Kagan and William Kristol wrote in the Weekly Standard (see GSN, Nov. 30, 2001).
2/6/02 Iraq I: U.S. Lacks Evidence of Iraqi Tie to Terrorism
Several U.S. intelligence officials have said the CIA has no evidence linking Iraq to anti-U.S. terrorist organizations, according to today's New York Times. There is also no evidence that Iraq has provided weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, although concerns remain about Iraq's programs to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the Times reported.
The Times article came after U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech last week (see GSN, Jan. 30) in which he claimed that Iraq poses a threat to U.S. security due to its support for terrorism and attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction (James Risen, New York Times, Feb. 6).
3/12/02 U.S. Response: Administration Keeps Pressure on "Rogue" Regimes
WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush, in a major speech, yesterday reaffirmed the U.S. policy of including regimes that have both pursued weapons of mass destruction and supported terrorism in the U.S.-led international campaign against terrorism.
3/19/02 Al-Qaeda-Iraq: Groups Are Tied, Kurdish Sources Say
Kurdish sources say Iraq has direct links to al-Qaeda and has possibly smuggled chemical and biological weapons into Afghanistan, according to an article in the current issue of the New Yorker (see GSN, March 12).
5/1/02 Iraq: U.S. Says No Link Between Sept. 11 Hijacker, Iraq
U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to find evidence of a rumored connection between an Iraqi intelligence agent and Mohamed Atta, the alleged leader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, the Washington Post reported today (see GSN, Feb. 6).
6/21/02 Iraq: Al-Qaeda Operatives Hide in Iraq, Some U.S. Officials Say
Bush administration officials believe Al-Qaeda operatives are using Iraq as a hideout in the aftermath of the U.S.-led campaign to oust Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, the Washington Times reported today (see GSN, March 20). Some analysts and officials believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is aware of al-Qaeda's presence in his country, according to the Times.
8/2/02 Iraq I: Hussein Might Have Link to Al-Qaeda; Post-Hussein Costs High
A senior Bush administration official said that, despite doubts within the CIA and FBI, evidence "holds up" that alleged al-Qaeda member and Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague five months before the attacks on New York and Washington, the Los Angeles Times reported today (see GSN, May 9).
8/24/02 - William Safire: Interrogations link Al Qaeda to Iraq
Brent Scowcroft and his leave-Saddam-alone acolytes on the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board insist that "there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations." But here are two names of intense current interest to American counterterror agent -
9/26/02 Iraq II: White House Says Hussein, Al Qaeda Connected
U.S. President George W. Bush, along with other senior U.S. officials, yesterday alleged possible connections between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist network (see GSN, Aug. 2).
Bush said he was concerned Hussein and al-Qaeda could decide to work together, adding that the two were already almost indistinguishable.
"The danger is, is that they work in concert," Bush said during a White House meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. "The danger is, is that al-Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world."
9/27/02 Unwanted Debate on Iraq-Al Qaeda Links Revived
"On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said there is evidence of links between al Qaeda and Iraq, which he said had been discussed during a CIA briefing for NATO defense ministers meeting in Warsaw. On Wednesday, President Bush spoke of "the danger . . . that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness," and noted that "you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."
Wednesday night, White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said al Qaeda captives, "in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development. . . . And there are some al Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad" after U.S. attacks against them began in Afghanistan last October.
10/20/02 - Jim Hoagland: CIA's New Old Iraq File
Imagine that Saddam Hussein has been terrorist training and other lethal support to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda for years. You can't imagine that? Sign up over there. You can be a Middle East analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Or at least you could have been until recently. As President Bush's determination to overthrow the Iraqi dictator has become evident to all, a cultural change has come over the world's most expensive intelligence agency: Some analysts out at Langley are now willing to evaluate incriminating evidence against the Iraqis and call it just that.
10/24/02 Pentagon Sets Up Intelligence Unit
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior advisers have assigned a small intelligence unit to search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or links to terrorists that the nation's spy agencies may have overlooked, Pentagon officials said today.
Some officials say the creation of the team reflects frustration on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and other senior officials that they are not receiving undiluted information on the capacities of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and his suspected ties to terrorist organizations.
But officials who disagree say the top civilian policy makers are intent on politicizing intelligence to fit their hawkish views on Iraq.
10/25/02 Rumsfeld Denies Rift Exists Between Pentagon and C.I.A
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld went to great lengths today to describe a collegial, cooperative relationship between the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, even as he noted "differences of opinions" over how to interpret data on terrorist cells and adversary states like Iraq.
11/21/02 An Al Qaeda-Iraq link materializing?
-- Since then, a written statement from Al Qaeda, received by Al Jazeera addresses Americans, saying, "You are placing Muslims under siege in Iraq, where children die every day ... how weird that you do not care for 1.5 million Iraqi children who died under siege but when 3,000 of your compatriots died, the whole world was shaken." This is as far as Al Qaeda has ever gone in embracing the cause of Iraq. If there was no such link between the two before, they certainly seem interested in establishing that there is one now and that Islamic terrorists are rallying around this secular - but anti-American - regime.
1/29/03 -- William Safire Clear ties of terror link Iraq to Al Qaeda
In the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, Secretary of State Colin Powell could find "no clear link" between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
One soon appeared. On Sept. 24, 2001, I reported: "The clear link between the terrorist in hiding (Osama) and the terrorist in power (Saddam) can be found in Kurdistan, that northern portion of Iraq protected by U.S. and British aircraft. -- Kurdish sources tell me (and anyone else who will listen) that the Iraqi dictator has armed and financed a fifth column of Al Qaeda mullahs and terrorists."
The CIA would not listen. Through credulous media outlets, the agency - embarrassed by its pre-Sept. 11 inadequacies - sought to discredit all intelligence about this force of 600 terrorists. Called Ansar al Islam, and led by bin Laden's Arabs trained in Afghanistan, they were sent in with Saddam's support to establish an enclave in the no-flight zone. One assignment was to assassinate the free Kurds who made up the only anti-Saddam leadership inside Iraq.
2/2/03 Split at CIA and FBI on Iraqi Ties to Al Qaeda
The Bush administration's efforts to build a case for war against Iraq using intelligence to link it to Al Qaeda and the development of prohibited weapons has created friction within United States intelligence agencies, government officials said.
Some analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency have complained that senior administration officials have exaggerated the significance of some intelligence reports about Iraq, particularly about its possible links to terrorism, in order to strengthen their political argument for war, government officials said.
2/2/03 False Trails that Lead to the Al-Qaeda 'Links'
Since the aftermath of 11 September, it has been the Holy Grail of Bush administration hardliners: to link Iraq with al-Qaeda - and join up its war on terrorism with its policy of regime change in Baghdad.
Last week it was promised again, first by President George Bush in his State of the Union address and later by Tony Blair, who said he 'knew' of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. US Secretary of State Colin Powell says those links will be revealed this week. But with only weeks before the expected outbreak of war, sceptics are asking how real - and how new - the evidence of that link will be.
2/5/03 Remarks to the United Nations Security Council
Secretary Colin L. Powell - New York City
"My friends, the information I have presented to you about these terrible weapons and about Iraq's continued flaunting of its obligations under Security Council Resolution 1441 links to a subject I now want to spend a little bit of time on, and that has to do with terrorism.
Our concern is not just about these illicit weapons; it's the way that these illicit weapons can be connected to terrorists and terrorist organizations that have no compunction about using such devices against innocent people around the world.
Iraq and terrorism go back decades. Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives. Saddam uses the Arab Liberation Front to funnel money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in order to prolong the Intifadah. And it's no secret that Saddam's own intelligence service was involved in dozens of attacks or attempted assassinations in the 1990s.
But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder"
2/5/03 Weak Link
-- In an interview with ABCNEWS, the man considered the leader of Ansar al-Islam, Majamuddin Fraraj Ahmad, who is also known as Mullah Krekar, denied all allegations that he is in any way linked to Iraq.
"They are our enemy," he said, adding that his group opposes Saddam Hussein because, unlike Osama bin Laden, Saddam is not a good Muslim.
"We believe that Saddam Hussein, him and his group and his ministers also outside of Islam zone," said Krekar.
2/11/03 Prisoner casts doubt on Iraq tie to Al Qaeda
HAMBURG, Germany -- A former Al Qaeda recruit told German authorities last year that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi(*), portrayed by the Bush administration as the critical link between Osama bin Laden's group and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, was actually opposed to Al Qaeda.
In voluminous statements given to German federal police after his April arrest, Shadi Abdallah, a 26-year-old Jordanian who claims to have served briefly as a bin Laden bodyguard, maintained that Zarqawi was allied instead with Iraq's enemy, the fundamentalist Islamic government of Iran.
3/22/03 C.I.A Aides Feel Pressure in Preparing Iraqi Reports
The recent disclosure that reports claiming Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger were based partly on forged documents has renewed complaints among analysts at the C.I.A. about the way intelligence related to Iraq has been handled, several intelligence officials said.
Analysts at the agency said they had felt pressured to make their intelligence reports on Iraq conform to Bush administration policies.
For months, a few C.I.A. analysts have privately expressed concerns to colleagues and Congressional officials that they have faced pressure in writing intelligence reports to emphasize links between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda.
For further information, Palamedes provided a fuller report that you can access here.