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WSJ’s Paul Gigot: ‘We Didn’t Go To War Because Of Al Qaeda Links’

This morning on Fox News, Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot said the Pentagon report on Douglas Feith’s activities are irrelevant, claiming, “We didn’t go to war because of al Qaeda links.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/02/gigotqaeda.320.240.flv]

In fact, the supposed Iraq-al Qaeda links formed the basis of the administration’s rationale for war. Here’s what the resolution authorizing force against Iraq said:

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq

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Gigot claimed again late in the show that “we didn’t go to war” for al Qaeda links, but rather for WMD. NPR’s Juan Williams correctly noted that the reason the administration proffered for attacking Iraq was to prevent Saddam’s alleged WMD from falling into al Qeada’s hands. Here’s what Bush said:

We’ve already found confirmation that the Al Qaeda terrorists are pursuing weapons of mass destruction. At the same time there’s a danger of terror groups joining together with the regimes that have or are seeking to build such weapons. In Iraq, we know that Saddam Hussein is pressing forward with these capabilities. He has used weapons of mass destruction both in his war against Iran and against his own people. [10/2/02]

Transcript:

So, Paul, what was going on here with Feith’s operation in the Pentagon? Was this an honest, good faith alternative analysis of the intelligence? Or was this a bunch of top officials in the Pentagon and the White House who were trying to build a case to go to war?

GIGOT: We didn’t go to war because of Al Qaida links. We went to war because of WMD, which was what the CIA said Saddam had, and that’s what they got wrong.

[…]

WILLIAMS: Look, I find this so unbelievable. It’s so tenuous, but it seems to me clear that there’s a need to somehow defend this idea that there was some kind of operational link when it’s clear there wasn’t ever any operational link between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

And then you can say oh, yes, there might have been a meeting between Mohamed Atta and Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague. Never proven. Oh, there might be Zarqawi visiting. You know, people visit all the time different places.

I don’t know that there’s any evidence that there was discussions about planning an attack on the United States. I haven’t seen anything like that.

What is clear, though, is that people are refusing to acknowledge the idea, even given that it’s a Pentagon report, that this was cherry-picking intelligence. I think if you saw that lady astronaut charging after the other one with a pepper spray, you’d say oh, well, it could be she just wanted to say hello.

I mean, it’s a clear case of someone manipulating evidence to build a case to go to war. And obviously, it’s led to tragic consequences for people. We’ve lost lives and money and time.

GIGOT: But we didn’t go to war for that. We went to war for WMD which the intelligence services got wrong.

WILLIAMS: But the reason we went to war over WMD is the fear that if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, he would lend them to Al Qaida, strengthening Al Qaida, and that was just wrong, Paul.

GIGOT: Do you think that that was impossible? Do you think that that could never have happened?

WILLIAMS: No, but, Paul, that’s not what you just said. Paul, you said we went to war over WMD.