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Kristol: The 9/11 Commission and the Connection
The Weekly Standard ^ | July 26, 2004 | William Kristol

Posted on 07/16/2004 6:03:12 PM PDT by RWR8189

Did al Qaeda and Iraq have a "collaborative relationship"?

THE FINAL REPORT from the 9/11 Commission is scheduled to be released this Thursday. It will be a dense thicket of chronology, narrative, analysis, and proposals for reform. But one issue is likely to be prominent in the news coverage. In fact, it already has been. "9/11 Report Is Said to Dismiss Iraq-Qaeda Alliance." That was the headline over a July 12 New York Times report.

We hope the Times is mistaken. It doesn't have a great track record on the issue, insisting (erroneously) that the commission's staff statement last month found "No Qaeda-Iraq Tie." The vague language of the staff statement lent itself to misreporting. Most problematic was its declaration that repeated contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda "do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship."

Almost immediately, the commission's co-chairmen qualified that finding. When the Times and others claimed that the staff statement "sharply contradicted" claims of a connection from the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney, Democratic co-chairman Lee Hamilton strongly objected:

I must say I have trouble understanding the flak over this. The vice president is saying, I think, that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that. What we have said is just what [Republican co-chairman Tom Kean] just said: We don't have any evidence of a cooperative or collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda with regard to the attacks on the United States. So it seems to me that the sharp differences that the press has drawn, that the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me. [Emphasis added.]

That qualification--"with regard to the attacks on the United States"--is crucial. The Bush administration has never claimed Iraq was behind the attacks on September 11. In fact, when that question was put to President Bush by reporters from Newsweek six weeks before the Iraq war, his answer was direct: "I cannot make that claim."

What the Bush administration did say--and what so many reporters seem to have trouble understanding--is that Iraq and al Qaeda had a relationship that, by its very existence, posed a potential threat to the United States. (According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report released on July 9, the CIA counterterrorism center concurred: "Any indication of a relationship between these two hostile elements could carry great dangers to the United States.")

Was it a "collaborative relationship"? Former CIA director George Tenet testified on several occasions that intelligence from "sources of varying reliability" indicated that Iraq provided safe haven and training to al Qaeda. If he's right, that's collaboration. But it's not just George Tenet. An internal Iraqi intelligence document recovered in postwar Iraq referred to Iraq-al Qaeda ties as a "relationship." The New York Times first disclosed the existence of that document--authenticated by several U.S. government intelligence units--one week after the 9/11 Commission's staff statement. The document states that "cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement" and that when bin Laden was expelled from Sudan in 1996, Iraqi intelligence sought "other channels through which to handle the relationship."

Let us be clear: Neither we nor the Bush administration ever suggested that Saddam Hussein collaborated in or had foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot. The CIA assessment that al Qaeda was capable of conducting those attacks without the active assistance of a state sponsor is quite persuasive. Still, there are two Iraq-related issues that deserve further explanation from the 9/11 Commission: hijacker Mohammed Atta's alleged meetings with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, and the al Qaeda-related activities of Iraqi operative Ahmed Hikmat Shakir.

Staff Statement 16, released last month, expressed doubts that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in April 2001. Those doubts may be reasonable, but the evidence presented in that statement is hardly conclusive--interviews with intelligence officials (no details of the interviews are provided) and cell phone records that may or may not place Atta in the United States. Remarkably, the Staff Statement made no mention of Atta's unusual trips to Prague in the spring of 2000, trips he made en route to the United States. An unclassified CIA document released last week by Senator Carl Levin reports that "according to detainee reporting [Atta] departed to the United States from Prague because he thought a non-E.U. member country would be less likely to keep meticulous travel data." Perhaps. But Atta probably created a more elaborate paper trail, including a German visa, by going out of his way to travel from Germany to Prague twice in a matter of days before coming to the United States. (And if Atta were concerned about traveling to E.U. countries, he apparently got over that by July, when he made a round-trip flight from the United States to Spain.) We look forward to a more comprehensive treatment of this in the Commission's final report this week.

The other potential Iraqi connection to September 11 concerns Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee's July 9 report, Shakir is an Iraqi national

who facilitated the travel of one of the September 11 hijackers to Malaysia in January 2000. [Redacted.] A foreign government service reported that Shakir worked for four months as an airport facilitator in Kuala Lumpur at the end of 1999 and beginning of 2000. Shakir claimed he got this job through Ra'ad al-Mudaris, an Iraqi embassy employee. [Redacted.] Another source claimed that al-Mudaris was a former IIS [Iraqi intelligence] officer. The CIA judged in Iraqi Support for Terrorism, however, that al-Mudaris' [redacted] that the circumstances surrounding the hiring of Shakir for this position did not suggest it was done on behalf of the IIS.

This chronology alone is stunning: A man who received his job through a contact at the Iraqi embassy--a former intelligence officer by one reckoning--facilitates the arrival of a September 11 hijacker for one of the key planning meetings before those attacks.

And there is more to the story, as previously reported in these pages by Stephen F. Hayes. According to several government sources familiar with the intelligence, Shakir's schedule was controlled by the Iraqi embassy contact. Shakir was detained twice after the September 11 attacks, first in Qatar--where authorities found contact information for several high-ranking al Qaeda terrorists in his possession--and later in Jordan. Saddam Hussein's government demanded Shakir's release.

Was the CIA's assessment in Iraqi Support for Terrorism the right one? It may be that the "circumstances surrounding the hiring of Shakir for this position did not suggest it was done on behalf of the IIS." What were those circumstances? Hayes has reported that analysts at the CIA were skeptical of an Iraqi intelligence connection because al-Mudaris, Shakir's embassy contact, was a relatively low-ranking embassy official, and the CIAbelieved this not to be the usual profile of an Iraqi intelligence operative working under diplomatic cover. But how much weight should one give this assumption by the CIA?

In any case, the CIA itself--according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report--has prudently shown "reluctance to draw a conclusion with regard to Shakir." The 9/11 Commission, as yet, has also not drawn any conclusions regarding Shakir. That's because, other than one brief public allusion by Commissioner John Lehman, the 9/11 Commission has never mentioned Shakir. Certainly that oversight deserves to be remedied in its final report. What is the explanation for this apparent connection between Iraqi intelligence and a 9/11 planning meeting?

--William Kristol

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 911; 911commission; alqaeda; alqaedaandiraq; hayes; iraq; kristol; stephenfhayes; stephenhayes; theconnection; weeklystandard; williamkristol

1 posted on 07/16/2004 6:03:13 PM PDT by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189
=========== Document linking Atta, Saddam, Nidal, bin Ladin ===========

Handwritten letter dated Feb. 19, 1998 linking bin Laden and Saddam Hussein
discussing arrival of a secret envoy sent by bin Laden to Iraq.
The signature beneath the letter is a codename, "MDA" - the Mukhabarat.

911 Commission Meets

GOTTA SEE THIS - Who's Who on the 9/11 "Independent" Commission


Gorelick Caught In Lie - Gorelick Says She Did Not Author or Sign WALL Memo

Could OKC 'silver bullet' have prevented 9-11?

On Aug. 22, 1996, just before the Democratic National Convention,
Ms. Gorelick oversaw a critical Justice Department meeting with the FBI.
mmediately after this meeting, as it happened,
all serious inquiry into the fate of TWA 800 came to an end.

Gorelick was instrumental in the corruption of TWA Flight 800 terrorism investigation
Did Clinton appointee corrupt Flight 800 probe?

The Mysterious Jamie Gorelick Phone Call
By David Hoffman,Sun Sep 14 12:10:57 1997

GORELICK GATE - various FR links


WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT - THINGS TO LISTEN TO WHILE FReeping and reading about Gorelick's Evil Web
GOTTA HEAR THIS part 1 (911 in sound ~3 megabytes) --- REMEMBER

=====> (click here, or download with right mouse button)

GOTTA HEAR THIS part 2 (911 in sound ~ ~8 megabytes) --- REMEMBER

=====> Never Forget ! (click here, or download with right mouse button)

2 posted on 07/16/2004 6:10:26 PM PDT by Diogenesis ("Then I say unto you, send men to summon ... worms. And let us go to Fallujah to collect heads.")
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To: Diogenesis
That qualification--"with regard to the attacks on the United States"--is crucial.

The first WTC bombing has undenaible links to Iraq since Saddam Hussein gave sanctuary to one of the perps.

3 posted on 07/16/2004 6:15:35 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: RWR8189

This report is purposefully a bunch of obtuse drivel so that all sides can say whatever they want...Obfuscate as they do, they cannot avoid the obvious ...Saddam and Al Qaeda worked together ...that alone justifies a war

4 posted on 07/16/2004 6:18:17 PM PDT by woofie ( I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.)
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To: jwalsh07


1968 Robert Kennedy assassinated
1972 Munich Olympics Sep-5,1972 (Black September)
1976 Entebbe Hostage Crisis, June 27, 1976
1979 Iran Hostage Crisis, Nov. 4, 1979 444 days
1979 Grand Mosque Seizure, Nov 20,1979
1981 Assassination of Egyptian President, Oct 6,1981
1982 Assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister, Sept 14, 1982
1983 Bombing of US Embassy in Beirut6, April 18,1983
1983 Bombing of Maring Barricks, Beruit, Oct 23,1983
1984 Hizballah Restaurant Bombing, April 12,1984
1985 Egyptian Airliner Hijacking, Nov 23,1985
1985 Rome Airport murders
1985 TWA Flight 847 hijacked, U.S. Navy diver murdered
1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, Homacidal maniac lived in saddams Iraq
1986 Aircraft Bombing in Greece, March 30, 1986
1988 Pan Am 747 Flight 103 Bombing, Lockerbie, 100's murdered
1988 Berlin Discoteque Bombing, Dec 21,1988
1992 Bombing in Israeli Embassy in Argentina, March 17,1992
1993 Attempted Assassination of Pres. Bush Sr., April 14,1993
1993 First World Trade Center bombing, February 26th, 7 Killed, Hundreds injured, Billions
1994 Air France Hijacking, Dec 24,1994
1995 Attack on US Diplomats in Pakistan, Mar 8,1995
1995 Saudi Military Installation Attack, Nov 13, 1995
1995 Kashmiri Hostage taking, July 4,1995
1996 Khobar Towers attack
1996 Sudanese Missionarys Kidnapping, Aug 17,1996
1996 Paris Subway Explosion, Dec 3,1996
1997 Israeli Shopping Mall Bombing, Sept 4, 1997
1997 Yemeni Kidnappings, Oct 30,1997
1998 Somali Hostage taking crisis, April 15,1998
1998 U.S. Embassy Bombing in Peru, Jan 15, 1998
1998 U.S. Kenya Embassy blown up, 100's murdered
1998 U.S. Tanzania Embassy blown up, 100's murdered
1999 Plot to blow up Space Needle (thwarted)
2000 USS Cole attacked, many U.S. Navy sailors murdered
2000-2003 Intifada against Israel - 100's dead and injured
2000 Manila Bombing, Dec 30,2000
2001 4 Commercial airliners hijacked, 250+ murdered
2001 World Trade Center attacked, 2800+ murdered
2001 Flight 93 murders
2001 Pentagon attacked, 180+ murdered
2002 Reporter Daniel Pearl, kidnapped and murdered
2002 Philippines American missionary, Filipino nurse killed
2002 July 4, El Al attack Los Angeles LAX, several murdered
2002 Bali bombing - 200 dead, 300 injured
2002 Yemen, French Oil Tanker attacked
2002 Marines attacked / murdered in Kuwait
2002 Washington D.C. sniper
2002 Russian Theater attacked, 100+ dead
2002 Nigerian riots against Miss World Pageant, 200 dead, dozens injured
2002 Mombasa Hotel Attacked, 12 dead, dozens injured
2002 Israeli Boeing 757 attacked by missiles, fortunately no one injured
2002 August Hotel bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia. 12 dead, dozens injured.
2003 Rusian concert bombing
2003 Phillipines airport and market bombing
2003 Foiled SAM plot in the USA
2003 UN Baghdad HQ Bombing
on and on and on and on it goes .........

5 posted on 07/16/2004 6:19:48 PM PDT by Diogenesis ("Then I say unto you, send men to summon ... worms. And let us go to Fallujah to collect heads.")
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To: Diogenesis

You da (photojournalist) man Dio!

6 posted on 07/16/2004 6:21:05 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: woofie
I think Saddam's fingerprints are all over 9/11 but the proof needs to stay classified for now. There's nothing proving he didn't, and the means/motive/opportunity test makes Saddam suspect numero uno.
7 posted on 07/16/2004 6:22:31 PM PDT by thoughtomator (End the imperialist moo slime colonization of the West!)
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To: RWR8189
The Golick/Venista Commission did manage to move the Warren Commission up on the credibility scale. When your Star Witness is a proven liar, you may have a problem!

Pray for W and Our Amazing Troops

8 posted on 07/16/2004 6:24:18 PM PDT by bray (Yaaaawn Tax , Tax , Tax & Kerry wants more gummit!)
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To: RWR8189

Okay. Time for the progessively leftists to set the wall even higher. They will need to pick up their theasauris and find a word that means 'productive collaboration'. I am hoping beyond hope that this will be the last hurdle or wall the left can erroneously erect.

9 posted on 07/16/2004 6:29:16 PM PDT by justa-hairyape
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To: RWR8189


Remember the Lost and Suffering on September 11, 2001


10 posted on 07/16/2004 6:38:16 PM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965
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To: jwalsh07

"The first WTC bombing has undenaible links to Iraq since Saddam Hussein gave sanctuary to one of the perps."

The Philippine government expelled an Iraqi diplomat in March 2003 due to his involvement with Abu Sayyaf terrorists. A cellphone timer from an unexploded bomb was traced to the Iraqi and several calls had been made to high-ranking Abu Sayyaf terrorists from that phone. I would find it unlikely that the Iraqi govenment was unaware of this individual's actions.

11 posted on 07/16/2004 6:56:39 PM PDT by Ben Hecks
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To: RWR8189

Good article, too bad it's Friday night.

12 posted on 07/16/2004 7:08:13 PM PDT by Eva
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To: Diogenesis

Add the TWA 800 Bombing to that list....

13 posted on 07/16/2004 7:49:18 PM PDT by Wil H
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To: RWR8189

perhaps an e-mail campaign to the NYTimes, LA Times, and WashPost should start NOW to warn them that we are watching and waiting for a report of real news, not their slant, is in order.

We are all interested in reading and learning from this report and WILL NOT STAND FOR further propaganda and biased reporting on something so important and sensitive.

14 posted on 07/16/2004 10:31:46 PM PDT by bitt
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To: bitt


15 posted on 07/16/2004 10:42:30 PM PDT by malia (HRC "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.")
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To: RWR8189

Careful read later bump.

16 posted on 07/16/2004 10:47:40 PM PDT by justshutupandtakeit (America's Enemies: foreign and domestic RATmedia agree Bush must be destroyed.)
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To: RWR8189
bumpity bump bump bump!

drip... drip... drip...

17 posted on 07/17/2004 12:28:16 AM PDT by Bonaparte
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To: RWR8189

The 911 "bipartisan" commission looks like a bipartisan cover-up. If the GOP continues to let the media lie regarding this they are guilty of complicity. By not asserting the specifics raised by the Weekly Standard, Bush's statements smack of purposefully ambiguity. I'm well aware of the theory the GOP is just waiting to "drop the bomb" for a well timed bump in the polls, but this is a matter of national security and allowing the continued manipulation of the truth is extremely unacceptable.

18 posted on 07/17/2004 6:48:45 AM PDT by True Capitalist
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To: Tahoe3002

Check post #5, Diogenesis has posted photos here.

19 posted on 07/18/2004 11:45:07 AM PDT by deadhead (God Bless Our Troops and Veterans Bush-Cheney '04)
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To: RWR8189

Good find on that old Bill Kristol article on Saddam/al Qaeda links.

Mark of

20 posted on 06/15/2007 1:32:59 PM PDT by ikez78 (
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