Media Willfully Blind on the Iraq, al Qaeda Connection

Conn Carroll /

These were the headers the nation’s leading media outlets used to describe a new Pentagon report detailing the links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime:

Here is what the report actually says:

Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist-operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a “de facto” link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.

Conservatives detailing how strongly this report establishes links between Saddam and al Qaeda include:

Not mentioned in the report, but already available in the public domain is this 1999 report from CNN:

Osama bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire accused by the United States of plotting bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, has left Afghanistan, Afghan sources said Saturday. … The report of his departure comes just days after the Taliban Islamic militia, which rules most of Afghanistan, took away his satellite telephone and banned bin Laden from speaking to the media. … Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers.