CAUGHT ON TAPE: Administration Ignores Senate Intel Report, Misleads America About Iraq/al-Qaeda Link

On September 8, 2006, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a long-awaited report on “postwar findings about Iraq’s…links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments.”

The report concluded:

1) Iraq and al Qa’ida were enemies, not collaborators.

2) There was no connection between Saddam and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration has continued to make false claims about Iraq’s connections to al-Qaeda that were specifically debunked by the Senate report. ThinkProgress has it all caught on tape. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/09/senate_final.320.240.flv]

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Fact 1: Saddam Hussein “attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi” and Hussein’s “regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.” [Page 109]

MR. SNOW: Well, and there was a relationship — there was a relationship in this sense: Zarqawi was in Iraq; al Qaeda members were in Iraq; they were operating, and in some cases, operating freely from Iraq. [9/12/06]

RICE: So he was a state sponsor of terror. He had terrorists operating in his country, including Zarqawi, who had a poisons network in the country. [9/10/06]

SNOW: What we have been unable to demonstrate or discover is whether they’re sitting around in the map room, spreading out the map, saying, okay, you bomb there. We just don’t have that kind of granularity in terms of the relationship, and therefore, we’re not going to go — we’re going to — not going to out-run the facts. [9/13/06]

CHENEY: You’ve got Iraq and al-Qaeda, testimony from the director of CIA that there was indeed a relationship, Zarqawi in Baghdad, etc. Then the third…
RUSSERT: The committee said that there was no relationship. In fact…
CHENEY: Well, I haven’t seen the report; I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. [9/10/06]

Fact 2: “The [Iraqi Intelligence Service] … actively attempted to locate and capture al-Zarqawi without success.” [Page 109]

BLITZER: But Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein were in a battle.
RICE: I don’t think – well, first of all, let’s take with a grain of salt the notion that somehow Zarqawi and Saddam were in some kind of pitched battle.
BLITZER: That’s what the report concludes.
RICE: No, what the report concludes is that some have testified that Saddam Hussein did not trust Zarqawi and that he was trying to find him. [9/10/06]

Fact 3: Postwar findings, the report concluded, “confirm that no such meeting occurred” between 9/11 hijacker and Muhammad Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague.” [Page 110]

RUSSERT: And the meeting with Atta did not occur?
CHENEY: We don’t know. [9/10/06]

Fact 4: Saddam Hussein “was distrustful of al-Qa’ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to this regime, refusing all requests from al Qa’ida to provide material or operational support.” [Page 105]

RICE: And we know that in testimony of the director of central intelligence at the time and as a matter of fact even in the 9-11 report that contacts between Al Qaida and Iraq had been going on, going back for more than a decade. So was Iraq involved with terror? Absolutely, Iraq was involved with terror. [9/10/06]

RICE: There were ties between Iraq and Al Qaida. [9/10/06]

CHENEY: There’s a separate–apart from that’s the issue of whether or not there was a historic relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The basis for that is probably best captured in George Tenet’s testimony before the Senate Intel Commission, an open session, where he said specifically that there was a pattern of relationship that went back at least a decade between Iraq and al-Qaeda. [9/10/06]