Well, I guess we'll just have to face up to it. The president lied when he linked Saddam Hussein with Osama Bin Laden's terror network, Al Qaida. He also lied when he declared that Iraq and Al Qaida cooperated in producing weapons of mass destruction. Yep, according to the elite, know it all press, there have never been any connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. The president made it all up.
The release of the September 11 Commission's Staff Statement 15 removes all doubt that President Clinton lied.
Because you see, it was Bill Clinton who initially claimed that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were partners in terrorism. Indeed, in 1998, the Clinton Administration went so far as to name the government of Iraq in its indictment of Osama Bin Laden for the African embassy bombings.
Bill Clinton specifically cited Iraqi-Al Qaida cooperation in the manufacture of chemical weapons. After attacking a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant, also in 1998, Clinton stated that the plant was in fact a chemical weapons factory. A chemical, EMPTA, which was used by Iraq to manufacture the deadly VX nerve gas and has no other known application, had been discovered at that facility. The plant was said to have received financing from both Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden, and was advised by Saddam's chemists. That was enough for Bill Clinton to lob13 cruise missiles onto the facility.
Indeed, it requires no great effort to search the archives of the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and even National Public Radio from the 1990's and find all those outlets claiming ties between Al Qaida and Iraq. Today, they collectively form the core of the "Bush lied" chorus.
Press reports earlier this week declared that the bipartisan September 11 commission had found no alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Once again, we were told that "Bush lied." Supposedly another central tenet of the president's justification for the war in Iraq was invalidated, just as was the case when it was determined that Iraq was not an, "imminent threat."
But, if one reads closely, the report says no such thing. It says that there is not a firm case linking Saddam with attacks in the United States. But, it does not in any way dismiss links between Al Qaida and Iraq.
The accusations of lying made against Bush have a remarkable symmetry.
Bush never said that Saddam Hussein presented an "imminent threat." Indeed Bush clearly stated that to wait until the threat was imminent would be to wait until it was too late. That would replicate our errors with North Korea.
In truth, the Bush Administration has stubbornly denied that Saddam Hussein had any role in the September 11, 2001 attacks, even dismissing reports from Czech intelligence that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague shortly before the attacks.
It's quite remarkable that anyone should have to defend himself against words that were placed in his mouth by his enemies. Democrats have repeated the accusations that Bush lied about the imminent threat and Iraq-9/11 links so often that evidence to the contrary no longer makes any impression on the press. Democrats know from experience how malleable is the sympathetic press. Howard Dean and Al Gore angrily accuse Bush of claiming that Saddam was an imminent threat. Say it often enough and the press will inevitably parrot the cry until it become cliché. And, if it can be proven that these statements, never uttered by Bush, are untrue, then Bush must have lied, regardless of whether he said it or not.
So eager are they to smear Bush in an election year, that they'll even twist, edit and distort news to make it fit the preconception - as they did in this instance.
In truth, the war in Iraq was never in retaliation. It was about preemption. As the president said, "We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century...They will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen. There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein."
Oh, is it worth mentioning that the president who said that was named Bill Clinton?