SADDAM AND AL-QAEDA….I’d like to make a point about the whole Saddam-al-Qaeda connection that I’ve seen mentioned obliquely in other places but never set out directly.

Basically, it’s this: were there ever any connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda? Of course there were. This is the Middle East, after all: everyone has connections of some kind with al-Qaeda. But despite years of concentrated work from the best best intelligence agencies in the world and the equally concentrated efforts of conservative conspiracy theorists to spin airy wisps of dross into gold, it’s clear that those connections were (a) infrequent, (b) far in the past, and (c) never amounted to anything.

So did Iraq have zero contact with al-Qaeda? No. But that’s not the point. What’s telling ? and never acknowledged by war supporters ? is how little contact Iraq had with them despite enormous opportunity. At a guess, I’d say that the following countries all had (and have) far greater contact with al-Qaeda than Iraq did:

  • Afghanistan

  • Sudan

  • Iran

  • Saudi Arabia

  • Syria

  • Egypt

  • Pakistan

  • And several others

A dozen contacts in a dozen years is not proof of a Saddam-al-Qaeda connection. Just the opposite, in fact. To suggest otherwise would be like documenting the small number of occasions that George Bush has consulted with Democrats and pretending that means he’s really a liberal. Frankly, given Iraq’s circumstances ? Arab country, centrally located, large, unfriendly to the U.S. ? their minuscule contact with al-Qaeda indicates a pretty positive effort on their part to avoid them.

Oh, and Tactitus ? resorting to “maybe there’s no evidence but that doesn’t mean anything” reeks of desperation, no? Isn’t it time to just accept the truth?

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