At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Tony Snow whitewashed President Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein “provided safe-haven” to al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Snow said that Bush indicated there was “no operational relationship” between Zarqawi and Saddam. Snow added, “we just don’t have that kind of granularity in terms of the relationship. And therefore, we’re not going to outrun the facts.” Watch it:
Actually, President Bush did say that Hussein was providing assistance to Zarqawi:
I always said that Saddam Hussein was a threat…He was a threat because he provided safe-haven for a terrorist like Zarqawi…
Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Pat Roberts (R-KS), definitively concluded Bush’s claim is inaccurate. From pg. 109 of their report:
Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and…the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.
So not only was Hussein not providing Zarqawi “safe haven,” he was actually trying to capture Zarqawi. While Snow claims that the “granularity of their relationship” is unknown, the Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded there was no relationship at all. Will the White House ever acknowledge the facts?
QUESTION: So all of your comments about a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi, you just knew they were there. Did you know what they were up to? I mean, how far does that go?
SNOW: I don’t know. We’ll have to look at the documents and continue to ask the questions.
SNOW: How so?
QUESTION: There was a lot of rhetoric coming out of the White House in the build-up to the war and since that there was this relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi and thus linking them together.
The argument has been that Saddam Hussein was a supporter and sponsor of terror. And we talked more often about, for instance, the fact that people who went in and committed suicide bombings against Israelis were getting paid bounties and that Saddam was working as best he could to try to support and foment terror.
QUESTION: No relationship with Al Qaida. No relationship with Zarqawi.
SNOW: That’s right. No operational relationship, as far as we can tell.
But they were there. And Zarqawi was committing acts of terror while he was in Baghdad, but we don’t — look, if we had the goods, we’d share them, but we don’t have the goods that would demonstrate…
QUESTION: (inaudible) know about this?
SNOW: I don’t know. I don’t know if he knew about it.
What we have been unable to demonstrate or discover is whether they’re sitting around in the map room, spreading out the map, saying, OK. You bomb there.
We just don’t have that kind of granularity in terms of the relationship. And therefore, we’re not going to outrun the facts.