Friday, February 9, 2007

Selected 9/11 Commission Report References to Iraq + comments

Bin Ladin now had a vision of himself as head of an international jihad confederation. In Sudan, he established an “Islamic Army Shura” that was to serve as the coordinating body for the consortium of terrorist groups with which he was forging alliances. It was composed of his own al Qaeda Shura together with leaders or representatives of terrorist organizations that were still independent. In building this Islamic army, he enlisted groups from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia, and Eritrea.Al Qaeda also established cooperative but less formal relationships with other extremist groups from these same countries; from the African states of Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Uganda; and from the Southeast Asian states of Burma,Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Bin Ladin maintained connections in the Bosnian conflict as well. The groundwork for a true global terrorist network was being laid.
The 9/11 Commission Report - p. 76.

"In building his Islamic Army, [Bin Laden] enlisted groups from ... Iraq...." I'm not real sure, but I *think* that constitutes a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Bin laden was filling his ranks with Iraqi's, this seems like at least some minimal evidence of a link.
The relationship between al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations. As will be described in chapter 7, al Qaeda contacts with Iran continued in ensuing years.

Bin Ladin was also willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq, even though Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, had never had an Islamist agenda—save for his opportunistic pose as a defender of the faithful against “Crusaders” during the Gulf War of 1991. Moreover, Bin Ladin had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army.

To protect his own ties with Iraq, Turabi reportedly brokered an agreement that Bin Ladin would stop supporting activities against Saddam. Bin Ladin apparently honored this pledge, at least for a time, although he continued to aid a group of Islamist extremists operating in part of Iraq (Kurdistan) outside of Baghdad’s control. In the late 1990s, these extremist groups suffered major defeats by Kurdish forces. In 2001, with Bin Ladin’s help they re-formed into an organization called Ansar al Islam. There are indications that by then the Iraqi regime tolerated and may even have helped Ansar al Islam against the common Kurdish enemy.

With the Sudanese regime acting as intermediary, Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request. As described below, the ensuing years saw additional efforts to establish connections.
The 9/11 Commission Report - p. 61.

Media Narrative: O.K., so we know that Bin Laden was actively seeking support from Iraq. He requested help in procuring weapons, space for training camps, and he helped form a terrorist group in Iraq called Ansar al Islam. We know that over the course of many years Bin Laden and Al Qaeda set up several meetings with Iraqi Intelligence officers and explored forming relationships with the government of Iraq; but I mean, common! This isn't a link. I mean, OK, setting up terrorist groups in a country, meeting with top level government officials, asking for aid and support... that's not evidence of a link.
Though Bin Ladin had promised Taliban leaders that he would be circumspect, he broke this promise almost immediately, giving an inflammatory interview to CNN in March 1997. The Taliban leader Mullah Omar promptly “invited” Bin Ladin to move to Kandahar, ostensibly in the interests of Bin Ladin’s own security but more likely to situate him where he might be easier to control.

There is also evidence that around this time Bin Ladin sent out a number of feelers to the Iraqi regime, offering some cooperation. None are reported to have received a significant response. According to one report, Saddam Hussein’s efforts at this time to rebuild relations with the Saudis and other Middle Eastern regimes led him to stay clear of Bin Ladin.

Media Narrative: Yeah. See we told you! No connection. We'll put this on the front page. Any alleged relationship was all one sided. No Iraq-Al Qaeda connection here. Bin Laden, the evil terrorist, wanted to get in bed with Saddam, but the pious and benevolent Saddam would have none of it.
In mid-1998, the situation reversed; it was Iraq that reportedly took the initiative.
Hrm... well that throws a monkey wrench in this media narrative.
Media Narrative: Oh, I know. We just won't report this. Who is going to read the 9/11 Commission Report, anyway. It's like 500+ pages. If we have to report it, we can bury it on page 19. Besides, our cover story says it all: No Iraq - Al Qaeda Connection.
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. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin’s Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis. In 1998, Iraq was under intensifying U.S. pressure, which culminated in a series of large air attacks in December.

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. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides’ hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.
The 9/11 Commission Report - pp. 65-66.

Media Narrative: Everything after "But to date" is fit to print. We'll forget the stuff that came before that. Don't want to confuse the sheep American public. Why delve into a debate about links and connections, which clearly exist, and "operational relationships" which we haven't seen any evidence (meaning we really don't know one way or another) that such a relationship existed. Besides, our headline reads so nice: No Iraq - Al Qaeda connection. And it fits so nicely with all our other stories.
.... The lesson then taken from Libya was that terrorism could be stopped by the use of U.S. air power that inflicted pain on the authors or sponsors of terrorist acts.

This lesson was applied, using Tomahawk missiles, early in the Clinton administration. George H.W. Bush was scheduled to visit Kuwait to be honored for his rescue of that country in the Gulf War of 1991. Kuwaiti security services warned Washington that Iraqi agents were planning to assassinate the former president. President Clinton not only ordered precautions to protect Bush but asked about options for a reprisal against Iraq. The Pentagon proposed 12 targets for Tomahawk missiles. Debate in the White House and at the CIA about possible collateral damage pared the list down to three, then to one— Iraqi intelligence headquarters in central Baghdad. The attack was made at night, to minimize civilian casualties. Twenty-three missiles were fired. Other than one civilian casualty, the operation seemed completely successful: the intelligence headquarters was demolished. No further intelligence came in about terrorist acts planned by Iraq.

The 1986 attack in Libya and the 1993 attack on Iraq symbolized for the military establishment effective use of military power for counter terrorism— limited retaliation with air power, aimed at deterrence. What remained was the hard question of how deterrence could be effective when the adversary was a loose transnational network.
The 9/11 Commission Report - p. 98.

In the late summer and fall of 1998, the U.S. government also was worrying about the deployment of military power in two other ongoing conflicts. After years of war in the Balkans, the United States had finally committed itself to significant military intervention in 1995–1996.Already maintaining a NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia, U.S. officials were beginning to consider major combat operations against Serbia to protect Muslim civilians in Kosovo from ethnic cleansing. Air strikes were threatened in October 1998;a full-scale NATO bombing campaign against Serbia was launched in March 1999.

In addition, the Clinton administration was facing the possibility of major combat operations against Iraq. Since 1996, the UN inspections regime had been increasingly obstructed by Saddam Hussein. The United States was threatening to attack unless unfettered inspections could resume. The Clinton administration eventually launched a large-scale set of air strikes against Iraq, Operation Desert Fox, in December 1998. These military commitments became the context in which the Clinton administration had to consider opening another front of military engagement against a new terrorist threat based in Afghanistan.
The 9/11 Commission Report - p. 119.

Given the President’s August Memorandum of Notification, the CIA had already been working on new plans for using the Afghan tribals to capture Bin Ladin. During September and October, the tribals claimed to have tried at least four times to ambush Bin Ladin. Senior CIA officials doubted whether any of these ambush attempts had actually occurred. But the tribals did seem to have success in reporting where Bin Ladin was.

This information was more useful than it had been in the past; since the August missile strikes, Bin Ladin had taken to moving his sleeping place frequently and unpredictably and had added new bodyguards. Worst of all, al Qaeda’s senior leadership had stopped using a particular means of communication almost immediately after a leak to the Washington Times. This made it much more difficult for the National Security Agency to intercept his conversations. But since the tribals seemed to know where Bin Ladin was or would be, an alternative to capturing Bin Ladin would be to mark his location and call in another round of missile strikes. On November 3, the Small Group met to discuss these problems, among other topics. Preparing Director Tenet for a Small Group meeting in mid- November, the Counterterrorist Center stressed,“At this point we cannot predict when or if a capture operation will be executed by our assets.”

U.S. counterterrorism officials also worried about possible domestic attacks. Several intelligence reports, some of dubious sourcing, mentioned Washington as a possible target. On October 26, Clarke’s CSG took the unusual step of holding a meeting dedicated to trying “to evaluate the threat of a terrorist attack in the United States by the Usama bin Ladin network.” The CSG members were “urged to be as creative as possible in their thinking” about preventing a Bin Ladin attack on U.S. territory. Participants noted that while the FBI had

been given additional resources for such efforts, both it and the CIA were having problems exploiting leads by tracing U.S. telephone numbers and translating documents obtained in cell disruptions abroad. The Justice Department reported that the current guidelines from the Attorney General gave sufficient legal authority for domestic investigation and surveillance.

Though intelligence gave no clear indication of what might be afoot, some intelligence reports mentioned chemical weapons, pointing toward work at a camp in southern Afghanistan called Derunta. On November 4, 1998, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed its indictment of Bin Ladin, charging him with conspiracy to attack U.S. defense installations. The indictment also charged that al Qaeda had allied itself with Sudan, Iran, and Hezbollah. The original sealed indictment had added that al Qaeda had “reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.” This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was “probably a direct result of the Iraq–Al Qida agreement.” Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the “exact formula used by Iraq.” This language about al Qaeda’s “understanding” with Iraq had been dropped, however, when a superseding indictment was filed in November 1998.
The 9/11 Commission Report - pp. 127-128.

Media Narrative: Bush lied about the threat of terrorists acquiring WMD's from Iraq. Where would he even get such a stupid idea. Oh, oh, oh, I know. He made it up. He lied. He lied and people died. Bush is so stupid. He lied and misled the whole country. There was no intel to suggest any kind of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, he is a liar.
In February 1999,Allen proposed flying a U-2 mission over Afghanistan to build a baseline of intelligence outside the areas where the tribals had coverage. Clarke was nervous about such a mission because he continued to fear that Bin Ladin might leave for someplace less accessible. He wrote Deputy National Security Advisor Donald Kerrick that one reliable source reported Bin Ladin’s having met with Iraqi officials, who “may have offered him asylum.” Other intelligence sources said that some Taliban leaders, though not Mullah Omar, had urged Bin Ladin to go to Iraq. If Bin Ladin actually moved to Iraq, wrote Clarke, his network would be at Saddam Hussein’s service, and it would be “virtually impossible” to find him. Better to get Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, Clarke declared. Berger suggested sending one U-2 flight, but Clarke opposed even this. It would require Pakistani approval, he wrote; and “Pak[istan’s] intel[ligence service] is in bed with” Bin Ladin and would warn him that the United States was getting ready for a bombing campaign: “Armed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.” Though told also by Bruce Riedel of the NSC staff that Saddam Hussein wanted Bin Ladin in Baghdad, Berger conditionally authorized a single U-2 flight. Allen meanwhile had found other ways of getting the information he wanted. So the U-2 flight never occurred.The 9/11 Commission Report - p. 136.

Atta’s Alleged Trip to Prague
Mohamed Atta is known to have been in Prague on two occasions: in December 1994, when he stayed one night at a transit hotel, and in June 2000, when he was en route to the United States. On the latter occasion, he arrived by bus from Germany, on June 2, and departed for Newark the following day.

The allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001 originates from the reporting of a single source of the Czech intelligence service. Shortly after 9/11, the source reported having seen Atta meet with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani, an Iraqi diplomat, at the Iraqi Embassy in Prague on April 9, 2001, at 11:00 A.M. This information was passed to CIA headquarters.

The U.S. legal attaché (“Legat”) in Prague, the representative of the FBI, met with the Czech service’s source. After the meeting, the assessment of the Legat and the Czech officers present was that they were 70 percent sure that the source was sincere and believed his own story of the meeting. Subsequently, the Czech intelligence service publicly stated that there was a 70 percent probability that the meeting between Atta and Ani had taken place. The Czech Interior Minister also made several statements to the press about his belief that the meeting had occurred, and the story was widely reported.

The FBI has gathered evidence indicating that Atta was in Virginia Beach on April 4 (as evidenced by a bank surveillance camera photo), and in Coral Springs, Florida on April 11, where he and Shehhi leased an apartment. On April 6, 9, 10, and 11, Atta’s cellular telephone was used numerous times to call various lodging establishments in Florida from cell sites within Florida. We cannot confirm that he placed those calls. But there are no U.S. records indicating that Atta departed the country during this period. Czech officials have reviewed their flight and border records as well for any indication that Atta was in the Czech Republic in April 2001, including records of anyone crossing the border who even looked Arab. They have also reviewed pictures from the area near the Iraqi embassy and have not discovered photos of anyone who looked like Atta. No evidence has been found that Atta was in the Czech Republic in April 2001.

According to the Czech government, Ani, the Iraqi officer alleged to have met with Atta, was about 70 miles away from Prague on April 8–9 and did not return until the afternoon of the ninth, while the source was firm that the sighting occurred at 11:00 A.M. When questioned about the reported April 2001 meeting, Ani—now in custody — has denied ever

meeting or having any contact with Atta. Ani says that shortly after 9/11, he became concerned that press stories about the alleged meeting might hurt his career. Hoping to clear his name, Ani asked his superiors to approach the Czech government about refuting the allegation. He also denies knowing of any other Iraqi official having contact with Atta.

These findings cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that Atta was in Prague on April 9, 2001. He could have used an alias to travel and a passport under that alias, but this would be an exception to his practice of using his true name while traveling (as he did in January and would in July when he took his next overseas trip). The FBI and CIA have uncovered no evidence that Atta held any fraudulent passports.

KSM and Binalshibh both deny that an Atta-Ani meeting occurred. There was no reason for such a meeting, especially considering the risk it would pose to the operation. By April 2001, all four pilots had completed most of their training, and the muscle hijackers were about to begin entering the United States.

The available evidence does not support the original Czech report of an Atta-Ani meeting.

The 9/11 Commission Report - pp. 127-128
The evidence does not support the original Czech report, but the findings cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that the meeting did occur. Translation: We don't know for sure.
Media Narrative: Ha! There is NO POSSIBLE WAY that meeting could have taken place. The meeting never happened. It was trumped up intelligence. Bush pressured the intelligence community to lie. Bush KNEW the truth. Bush LIED to the American people to go to war.

President Bush had wondered immediately after the attack whether Saddam Hussein’s regime might have had a hand in it. Iraq had been an enemy of the United States for 11 years, and was the only place in the world where the United States was engaged in ongoing combat operations. As a former pilot, the President was struck by the apparent sophistication of the operation and some of the piloting, especially Hanjour’s high-speed dive into the Pentagon. He told us he recalled Iraqi support for Palestinian suicide terrorists as well. Speculating about other possible states that could be involved, the President told us he also thought about Iran.

Clarke has written that on the evening of September 12, President Bush told him and some of his staff to explore possible Iraqi links to 9/11. “See if Saddam did this,” Clarke recalls the President telling them. “See if he’s linked in any way.” While he believed the details of Clarke’s account to be incorrect, President Bush acknowledged that he might well have spoken to Clarke at some point, asking him about Iraq.

Responding to a presidential tasking, Clarke’s office sent a memo to Rice on September 18, titled “Survey of Intelligence Information on Any Iraq Involvement in the September 11 Attacks.” Rice’s chief staffer on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, concurred in its conclusion that only some anecdotal evidence linked Iraq to al Qaeda. The memo found no “compelling case” that Iraq had either planned or perpetrated the attacks. It passed along a few foreign intelligence reports, including the Czech report alleging an April 2001 Prague meeting between Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer (discussed in chapter 7) and a Polish report that personnel at the headquarters of Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad were told before September 11 to go on the streets to gauge crowd reaction to an unspecified event. Arguing that the case for links between Iraq and al Qaeda was weak, the memo pointed out that Bin Ladin resented the secularism of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Finally, the memo said, there was no confirmed reporting on Saddam cooperating with Bin Ladin on unconventional weapons.

The day after September 11, President Bush met with his cabinet in order to try and determine who was responsible for 9/11. Bush noted that Iraq as one of several countries who could have offered the kind of support necessary for such a well planned attack. Clark's report made "no 'compelling case' that Iraq had either planned or perpetrated the attacks." Clark's report then went on to make the case that Bin Laden and Saddam wouldn't likely have worked together, and that there were no confirmed reports of Saddam and Bin Laden cooperating on unconventional weapons.

It seems interesting that when Clark was working for Clinton, we read this about clark
This passage [that al Qaeda had “reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.”] led Clarke ... to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was “probably a direct result of the Iraq–Al Qida agreement.” Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the “exact formula used by Iraq.”
But when working for Bush, and only one week after 9/11, Clark came out with a report basically stating the opposite - He actually said that there were no CONFIRMED reports of Saddam and Bin Laden cooperating on unconventional weapons, meaning that he could have said, "We have every reason to believe they are working together on WMD proliferation, but we have no "confirmed reporting on Saddam cooperating with Bin Ladin on unconventional weapons."

In any event, the Media Narrative was:
'Bush first thoughts after 9/11: Saddam Must have done it'
Clark warned Bush - 'No Iraq-9/11; Iraq-Al Qaeda Connections': Clark recently debunked the evil neocon f*** Bush's trumped up lies about a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
'Clark "intimidated"' Brilliant Anti Terrorist Czar, Richard Clark, was intimidated in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Bush administration neocons, thirsty for blood and oil. 'BushCo' threatened him into making a case for War against Iraq.
On the afternoon of 9/11, according to contemporaneous notes, Secretary
Rumsfeld instructed General Myers to obtain quickly as much information as

possible.The notes indicate that he also told Myers that he was not simply interested in striking empty training sites. He thought the U.S. response should consider a wide range of options and possibilities. The secretary said his instinct was to hit Saddam Hussein at the same time—not only Bin Ladin. Secretary Rumsfeld later explained that at the time, he had been considering either one of them, or perhaps someone else, as the responsible party.

According to Rice, the issue of what, if anything, to do about Iraq was really engaged at Camp David. Briefing papers on Iraq, along with many others, were in briefing materials for the participants. Rice told us the administration was concerned that Iraq would take advantage of the 9/11 attacks. She recalled that in the first Camp David session chaired by the President, Rumsfeld asked what the administration should do about Iraq. Deputy SecretaryWolfowitz made the case for striking Iraq during “this round” of the war on terrorism.

A Defense Department paper for the Camp David briefing book on the strategic concept for the war on terrorism specified three priority targets for initial action: al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Iraq. It argued that of the three, al Qaeda and Iraq posed a strategic threat to the United States. Iraq’s long-standing involvement in terrorism was cited, along with its interest in weapons of mass destruction.

Secretary Powell recalled that Wolfowitz—not Rumsfeld—argued that Iraq was ultimately the source of the terrorist problem and should therefore be attacked. Powell said that Wolfowitz was not able to justify his belief that Iraq was behind 9/11. “Paul was always of the view that Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with,” Powell told us. “And he saw this as one way of using this event as a way to deal with the Iraq problem.” Powell said that President Bush did not give Wolfowitz’s argument “much weight.” Though continuing to worry about Iraq in the following week, Powell said, President Bush saw Afghanistan as the priority.

President Bush told Bob Woodward that the decision not to invade Iraq was made at the morning session on September 15. Iraq was not even on the table during the September 15 afternoon session, which dealt solely with Afghanistan. Rice said that when President Bush called her on Sunday, September 16, he said the focus would be on Afghanistan, although he still wanted plans for Iraq should the country take some action or the administration eventually determine that it had been involved in the 9/11 attacks.

At the September 17 NSC meeting, there was some further discussion of “phase two” of the war on terrorism. President Bush ordered the Defense Department to be ready to deal with Iraq if Baghdad acted against U.S. interests, with plans to include possibly occupying Iraqi oil fields.

Within the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz continued to press the case for dealing with Iraq. Writing to Rumsfeld on September 17 in a memo headlined “Preventing More Events,” he argued that if there was even a 10 percent chance that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attack, maximum pri

ority should be placed on eliminating that threat. Wolfowitz contended that the odds were “far more” than 1 in 10, citing Saddam’s praise for the attack, his long record of involvement in terrorism, and theories that Ramzi Yousef was an Iraqi agent and Iraq was behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The next day, Wolfowitz renewed the argument, writing to Rumsfeld about the interest of Yousef ’s co-conspirator in the 1995 Manila air plot in crashing an explosives-laden plane into CIA headquarters, and about information from a foreign government regarding Iraqis’ involvement in the attempted hijacking of a Gulf Air flight. Given this background, he wondered why so little thought had been devoted to the danger of suicide pilots, seeing a “failure of imagination” and a mind-set that dismissed possibilities.

On September 19, Rumsfeld offered several thoughts for his commanders as they worked on their contingency plans. Though he emphasized the worldwide nature of the conflict, the references to specific enemies or regions named only the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Afghanistan. Shelton told us the administration reviewed all the Pentagon’s war plans and challenged certain assumptions underlying them, as any prudent organization or leader should do.

General Tommy Franks, the commanding general of Central Command, recalled receiving Rumsfeld’s guidance that each regional commander should assess what these plans meant for his area of responsibility. He knew he would soon be striking the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But, he told us, he now wondered how that action was connected to what might need to be done in Somalia,Yemen, or Iraq.

On September 20, President Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the two leaders discussed the global conflict ahead. When Blair asked about Iraq, the President replied that Iraq was not the immediate problem. Some members of his administration, he commented, had expressed a different view, but he was the one responsible for making the decisions.
What is this? Bush didn't have Iraq in mind the whole time? Bush didn't believe that Iraq was behind 9/11? Bush didn't push his administration to make a 9/11-Iraq link! Could you have ever guessed this by reading what counts as "news" in America.
Media Narrative: Bush lied about Iraq being behind 9/11! He knew that American's thought there was a link and he trumped up that fact in the build up to war. He talked about 9/11 and Iraq in the same sentence to confuse Americans into thinking the two were firmly linked! Bush was planning an invasion of Iraq since before he took office! He is greedy and he wanted their oil!
Franks told us that he was pushing independently to do more robust planning on military responses in Iraq during the summer before 9/11—a request President Bush denied, arguing that the time was not right. (CENTCOM also began dusting off plans for a full invasion of Iraq during this period, Franks said.) The CENTCOM commander told us he renewed his appeal for further military planning to respond to Iraqi moves shortly after 9/11, both because he personally felt that Iraq and al Qaeda might be engaged in some form of collusion and because he worried that Saddam might take advantage of the attacks to move against his internal enemies in the northern or southern parts of Iraq, where the United States was flying regular missions to enforce Iraqi no-fly zones. Franks said that President Bush again turned down the request.
The 9/11 Commission Report - pp. 334-336.
So top commanders wanted to redraft Iraq War plans after 9/11 because of fears that Saddam could be in cahoots with Bin Laden, and Bush said, "No." Bush didn't want to go to war with Iraq immediately after 9/11, in contrast to many in his administration. Could you have ever have guessed this from how this story was told in the press?
Media Narrative: Bush is a warmonger!

In the twentieth century, strategists focused on the world’s great industrial heartlands. In the twenty-first, the focus is in the opposite direction, toward remote regions and failing states. The United States has had to find ways to extend its reach, straining the limits of its influence. Every policy decision we make needs to be seen through this lens. If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords and narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.
The 9/11 Commission Report - p. 367.

Mamdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a.Abu Hajer al Iraqi) Iraqi chief procurement officer for al Qaeda in Sudan; arrested in connection with 1998 embassy bombings

Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani: Iraqi intelligence officer who allegedly met with Atta in Prague, Czech Republic; currently in U.S. custody

53. CIA analytic report,“Ansar al-Islam: Al Qa’ida’s Ally in Northeastern Iraq,” CTC 2003-40011CX, Feb. 1,2003.
54. Ibid.; Intelligence report, al Qaeda and Iraq,Aug. 1, 1997.
55. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, May 22, 2003; May 24, 2003. At least one of these reports dates the meeting to 1994, but other evidence indicates the meeting may have occurred in February 1995. Greg interview (June 25, 2004). Two CIA memoranda of information from a foreign government report that the chief of Iraq’s intelligence service and a military expert in bomb making met with Bin Ladin at his farm outside Khartoum on July 30, 1996. The source claimed that Bin Ladin asked for and received assistance from the bomb-making expert, who remained there giving training until September 1996, which is when the information was passed to the United States. See Intelligence reports made available to the Commission. The information is puzzling, since Bin Ladin left Sudan for Afghanistan in May 1996, and there is no evidence he ventured back there (or anywhere else) for a visit. In examining the source material, the reports note that the information was received “third hand,” passed from the foreign government service that “does not meet directly with the ultimate source of the information, but obtains the information from him through two unidentified intermediaries, one of whom merely delivers the information to the Service.” The same source claims that the bomb-making expert had been seen in the area of Bin Ladin’s Sudan farm in December 1995

The interrogation of a detainee indicates a direct link between an Iraqi bomb expert working with Al Qaeda. This info was backed up by 2 CIA memo's dating from 1996.
Media Narrative: No Iraq-Al Qaeda connection.

74. Intelligence report, unsuccessful Bin Ladin probes for contact with Iraq, July 24, 1998; Intelligence report, Saddam Hussein’s efforts to repair relations with Saudi government, 2001.
75. Intelligence report, Iraq approach to Bin Ladin, Mar. 16, 1999.
76. CIA analytic report,“Ansar al-Islam:Al Qa’ida’s Ally in Northeastern Iraq,” CTC 2003-40011CX, Feb. 1, 2003. See also DIA analytic report,“Special Analysis: Iraq’s Inconclusive Ties to Al-Qaida,” July 31, 2002; CIA analytic report,“Old School Ties,” Mar. 10, 2003. We have seen other intelligence reports at the CIA about 1999 contacts. They are consistent with the conclusions we provide in the text, and their reliability is uncertain. Although there have been suggestions of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda regarding chemical weapons and explosives training, the most detailed information alleging such ties came from an al Qaeda operative who recanted much of his original information.Intelligence report, interrogation of al Qaeda operative, Feb. 14,2004. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any such ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM and Zubaydah, 2003 (cited in CIA letter, response to Douglas Feith memorandum,“Requested Modifications to ‘Summary of Body of Intelligence Reporting on Iraq–al Qaida Contacts (1990–2003),’” Dec. 10, 2003, p. 5)

Media Narrative: Huh? He took back what he said? Oh, in that case it is news worthy. Fits in with the narrative: 'Bush Intel wrong;' 'No Iraq-Alqaeda Connection'
110. NSC email, Clarke to Berger, Nov. 4, 1998. Evidence on Iraqi ties to al Qaeda is summarized in chapter 2.

49. CIA cable,“Efforts to Locate al-Midhar,” Jan. 13, 2000.We now know that two other al Qaeda operatives flew to Bangkok to meet Khallad to pass him money. See chapter 8. That was not known at the time. Mihdhar was met at the Kuala Lumpur airport by Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi national. Reports that he was a lieutenant
colonel in the Iraqi Fedayeen have turned out to be incorrect.They were based on a confusion of Shakir’s identity with that of an Iraqi Fedayeen colonel with a similar name, who was later (in September 2001) in Iraq at the same time Shakir was in police custody in Qatar. See CIA briefing by CTC specialists (June 22, 2004);Walter Pincus and Dan Eggen,“Al Qaeda Link to Iraq May Be Confusion over Names,” Washington Post, June 22, 2004, p.A13.

60. Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (Free Press, 2004), p. 32.According to Clarke, he responded that “al Qaeda did this.”When the President pressed Clarke to check if Saddam was involved and said that he wanted to learn of any shred of evidence, Clarke promised to look at the question again, but added that the NSC and the intelligence community had looked in the past for linkages between al Qaeda and Iraq and never found any real linkages. Ibid.
61. President Bush told us that Clarke had mischaracterized this exchange. On the evening of September 12, the President was at the Pentagon and then went to the White House residence. He dismissed the idea that he had been wandering around the Situation Room alone, saying,“I don’t do that.” He said that he did not think that any president would roam around looking for something to do. While Clarke said he had found the President’s tone “very intimidating,” (“Clarke’s Take on Terror,”, Mar. 21, 2004, online at,President Bush doubted that anyone would have found his manner intimidating. President Bush and Vice President Cheney meeting (Apr. 29, 2004). Roger Cressey,Clarke’s deputy, recalls this exchange with the President and Clarke concerning Iraq shortly after 9/11, but did not believe the President’s manner was intimidating. Roger Cressey interview (June 23, 2004).
62. NSC memo, Kurtz to Rice, Survey of Intelligence Information on any Iraq Involvement in the September 11 Attacks, Sept. 18, 2001. On 60 Minutes (CBS, Mar. 21, 2004), Clarke said that the first draft of this memo was returned by the NSC Front Office because it did not find a tie between Iraq and al Qaeda; Rice and Hadley
deny that they asked to have the memo redone for this reason.
63.See DOD notes,Victoria Clarke notes, Sept. 11, 2001;DOD notes,Stephen Cambone notes,Sept. 11, 2001. Cambone’s notes indicate this exchange took place at 2:40 P.M. on September 11, 2001. Steven Cambone interview (July 15, 2004).
64. Condoleezza Rice meeting (Feb. 7, 2004). For an account of Rumsfeld’s and Wolfowitz’s position on Iraq, see Bob Woodward, Bush at War (Simon & Schuster, 2002), pp. 83–84. Rice told us that the Bush at War account of the Camp David discussions on Iraq accorded with her memory.
65. DOD memo, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy,“War on Terrorism: Strategic Concept,” Sept. 14, 2001.
66. Colin Powell interview (Jan. 21, 2004). Rumsfeld told Bob Woodward that he had no recollection of Wolfowitz’s remarks at Camp David. DOD transcript, “Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the Washington Post,” Jan. 9, 2002 (online at
67. Colin Powell interview (Jan. 21, 2004). Powell raised concerns that a focus on Iraq might negate progress made with the international coalition the administration was putting together for Afghanistan. Taking on Iraq at this time could destroy the international coalition. Ibid.

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