CONSERVATIVE AMNESIA….The thought of Karl Rove being frog marched out of the White House has apparently robbed the conservative blogosphere of its last meager dregs of rational thought. Today’s big news in the conservosphere is a six-year old ABC News segment that’s been heroically rescued from the “memory hole” and is now being trumpeted as proof ? proof, dammit! ? that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden used to be best buddies and Democrats have known it all along. It’s only when George Bush became president that we started denying it.
The etymology is a little murky here, but as near as I can tell the damning video first got dredged up by a radio show called The War Room With Quinn & Rose. From there it got picked up by Roger L. Simon and then by Michael Totten. The trail diverges a bit from there, with Power Line getting it from a reader and then linking to a video clip from Media Research Center, which was then picked up by Instapundit, who sniffed, “Yeah, we heard a lot of that stuff before Bush was President, but now it’s all supposed to be something he just made up.”
And indeed, the ABC segment reports that Osama’s people and Saddam’s people had contacts in 1994 in Sudan and in late 1998 in Afghanistan. There’s only one problem: this is nothing new. Nor was it new a year ago, the last time that Instapundit “discovered” this.
So once more, for those with short memories, here’s what the 9/11 Commission concluded:
Around [March 1997] Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response.
….In March 1998, after Bin Ladin?s public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin….Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban.
….But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship.
And that’s it. Both Saddam and Osama hated the United States. They had a couple of tentative conversations that never led anywhere. The last ones were in late 1998 or early 1999, and by the time the war started, the fundamentalist Sunnis of al-Qaeda and the secular Baathists of Iraq hadn’t so much as exchanged notes for four years. More details here, if you’re interested.
The only people who keep forgetting and then rediscovering all this are amnesiac conservatives. I wish somebody would buy one of them a subscription to Nexis.