BUSH AND ZARQAWI….Did Iraq have any serious ties to al-Qaeda? The 9/11 Commission says no, President Bush says yes. Here’s his best evidence:
Zarqawi. Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda. He’s the person who’s still killing. He’s the person — and remember the email exchange between al Qaeda leadership and he, himself, about how to disrupt the progress toward freedom?
Right. Zarqawi. If I were Bush I’d be embarrassed to mention his name. Here is NBC News last March:
In June 2002…the Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack [Zarqawi’s] camp [but]….the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council….The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it….The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi?s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
Would it have killed the press corps to follow up on Bush’s answer? I’m thinking of something like this:
Mr. President, if Zarqawi really was the linchpin of Saddam’s connection to al-Qaeda, why did you refuse three separate times to approve military plans to take out his camp?
Or, of course, they could have tried the more obvious followup and asked Bush why he continues to flog the Zarqawi connection when it’s well known that Zarqawi’s camp was in Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, territory that was part of the northern no-fly zone and outside of Saddam’s control.
Instead, there was no followup at all. Nothing. You see, it was time for lunch.