In an interview with CNN, former Undersecretary for Defense Doug Feith stood by the now-debunked claim that Iraq had a pre-war relationship with al Qaeda. Feith told Wolf Blitzer that former CIA Director George Tenet’s statement in October 2002 claiming there was a link is still “the best information on the subject.”
Pressed to defend his claim, Feith said, “I’ve not been in the government for the last year and a half — there may be some more intelligence on that subject.” Watch it:
Feith didn’t need to be in government to know that Tenet’s October 2002 statement has since been discredited. Subsequent analyses have debunked any relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. For example:
Senate Intelligence Committee Report Found No “Material Or Operational Support.” 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.” [Senate Phase II report, 9/8/06]
9-11 Commission Report Said No “Collaborative Operational Relationship” Existed Between Iraq and Al Qaeda. “We have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.” [9-11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04]
Senate Intelligence Committee Report Found No “Established, Formal” Relationship Between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report said that there was no “established, formal” relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, nor proof that the two had collaborated in attacks. [Senate Phase I report, 7/9/04]
BLITZER: Are you ready to acknowledge there were no WMD? Are you ready to acknowledge there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda?
FEITH: We did not find WMD stockpiles. We found WMD programs. And the Duelfer report, as I’m sure you know, was very clear on what we found in the WMD area. Although we did not find the stockpiles, we found he had the facilities, he had the personnel, he had the intention. It wasn’t the way the CIA described.
BLITZER: What about on the al Qaeda connection?
FEITH: On the al Qaeda connection, George Tenet on October 7th, 2002, wrote an unclassified letter to the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee laying out the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
BLITZER: So you believe there was a connection?
FEITH: I believe George Tenet.
BLITZER: But now you know that was false.
FEITH: No, I’ve never heard it was false.
BLITZER: To this day you believe he was working with al Qaeda?
FEITH: I believe that what George Tenet published in October of 2002 was the best information on the subject, and as far as I know — that is largely — I mean there may be — I’ve not been in the government for the last year and a half. There may be some more intelligence on that subject. I’m telling you from the time George Tenet published his findings on the Iraq/al Qaeda relationship, which was that they had a relationship for ten years and they talked about various things — bomb making and safe haven and other issues — that that was, the U.S. government’s best understanding of the subject. I never criticized that in public or in private.