In response to the determination by the 9/11 commission yesterday that Saddam Hussein was uninvolved in the Sept. 11 attacks and that there was never any relationship between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime, Vice President Dick Cheney came out and called The New York Times' coverage of the news "outrageous."
Today's Times quotes Cheney as saying on CNBC that the Times, in running a headline saying the panel "Finds no Qaeda-Iraq Tie," was trying to "fuzz up" up the distinction between 9/11 itself and the decade leading up to it. "Sometimes," Cheney said, referring to the Times' bias, "it's through ignorance. Sometimes it's malicious."
Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?
Cheney and Bush are trying to make the point that just because a) Saddam wasn't directly involved in 9/11 doesn't mean b) Saddam and Al Qaeda never had a relationship. But that is precisely what the 9/11 commission has concluded.
I read the entire front page section of the Times yesterday, and I've read the relevant parts of the commissions report (15) on the history of Al Qaeda, and the Times reported the matter accurately. (Go to the commission's site and read it for yourself.)
Here is what the commission found and what the Times reported: While based in Sudan, Al Qaeda wanted to support Kurdish resistance fighters in Iraq. Sudan, which had a working relationship with Saddam's regime, persuaded bin Laden not to do this and instead to reach out to Iraq, which he did.
In several subsequent meetings, bin Laden, despite his "antipathy" for Saddam's secular regime, asked senior Iraqi officials for permission to establish training camps within Iraq's borders and for help in procuring weapons. These requests were never met with a response. In other words, Saddam blew Al Qaeda off.
Later, when Al Qaeda moved into Afghanistan, under the protectorate of the Taliban, bin Laden made similar requests. Again, they were blown off.
This is not a relationship!!
If I meet a girl through mutual friends and then call her repeatedly asking for a date, and she does not respond to me, we do not have a relationship. If I stalk Heidi Klum, the only relationship we have is a) in my head b) within the parameters of the criminal justice system.
No meeting in Prague
The 9/11 commission also rebuffed the rumor, which this administration and Dick Cheney continue to hang their hat on, that Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the 9/11 plot, met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague. The commission found no evidence it happened and substantial evidence that Atta was in Florida at the time.
Cheney's response: "It's never been proven. It's never been refuted."
I can't prove that George W. Bush still drinks, but that doesn't mean it's true, either. This is not logic: The absence of evidence refuting A means that A is likely true.
Bush and Cheney still hold on to the fact that Islamic terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi may have been in Iraq prior to the invasion as proof of some kind of link. But it's not. There were Islamic terrorists in America before 9/11 and there most likely are plenty of them here right now. Does that mean we're working with them?
Saddam allowed certain shit to happen inside his borders, including a semi-autonomous Kurdish state, a group of people whom he gassed and who would like nothing better than to topple him. He did not have a strict lockdown over the entirety of his territory.
The only conclusion I can draw from this whole development is that:
Facts no longer matter in American society
There is a whole legion of people on the right, from Sean Hannity to Rush Limbaugh, who are following Cheney's lead today on the American airwaves, disputing the 9/11 commission, berating the Times as a liberal mouthpiece, distorting two plain facts:
1) Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
2) There was never a collaborative relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. EVER.
Truth no longer matters in this society. Facts no longer matter. The center is not holding. Economic data, the best science on global warming, all of it is subject to interpretation.
Even the Times, whose coverage Cheney lambasts, will not come out and say: Cheney and Bush continued to assert today that the world is flat, when in fact we've got some pretty good evidence that it's round.
[UPDATE: The Times' editorial Saturday addressed this: "But we were surprised by the depth and ferocity of the administration's capacity for denial. President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have not only brushed aside the panel's findings and questioned its expertise, but they are also trying to rewrite history."]
How is this allowed to happen? How can they lie like this and get away with it?
If Dick Cheney has evidence of a relationship, let's see it. His current tack, of refuting these findings without any supporting evidence, while smearing the media, is unacceptable.