Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Where's the proof? Talking about a link and showing the evidence for it are two different things. Given that the latest Bush ads are talking about how useless pessimism is, lets look at the evidence and evaluate it. If Vice President Cheney has secret evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, he has an obligation to share it with the 9/11 commission. A St. Peterburg Times Editorial Published June 22, 2004 President Bush and Vice President Cheney vehemently dispute the 9/11 commission's conclusion that no "collaborative" relationship existed between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein's regime, and the vice president says he "probably" has seen incriminating evidence that the commission has not reviewed. If so, the Bush administration has an obligation to share that evidence with the commission immediately. Members of the commission, who were appointed by the president, are cleared to see the most sensitive classified information, and the administration agreed more than a year ago to provide all documents the commission needs to complete its investigation into the worst terrorist attacks in our nation's history. Evidence of a more substantial link between al-Qaida and Hussein wouldn't just bolster the administration's case for having gone to war in Iraq; it also could help to complete the picture of al-Qaida's planning and support prior to 9/11. The White House also has an obligation to share any such information with the American people and the world community. We live in a representative democracy, not an autocracy, and our government cannot successfully wage war for reasons that are not understood and supported by the public. We also are dependent on the cooperation of other governments around the world in the war against terrorism, and that support depends on our credibility. We don't know what information the vice president is referring to, but we do know this: Every important public charge that the White House and its supporters did make against Iraq in the months leading up to war - such as the purchase of nuclear weapons materials from Africa, meetings between al-Qaida and Iraqi operatives in Prague and mobile biological weapons labs in the Iraqi desert - has been discredited. No substantive evidence on the record supports the administration's claim that Iraq presented an immediate threat to U.S. security. Members of the 9/11 commission are understandably reluctant to engage in a semantic argument with the White House over the meaning of a "collaborative" relationship, but Thomas Kean, the Republican chairman of the commission, notes that al-Qaida had more substantial links to the governments of Iran and Pakistan prior to 9/11 than it had to Iraq. The 9/11 commission's reports have been meticulous, straightforward and persuasive. They have dealt with Iraq only to the extent that allegations about Hussein's possible role in aiding al-Qaida prior to the attacks had to be investigated and put to rest. The bipartisan commission's credibility isn't in question. The administration's is. That's the most important reason for the vice president to come forward and produce the evidence he alluded to. Could not have said it better myself.
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