President Bush and his advisers have taken much criticism for tying the war in Iraq to 9-11, al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden, when in fact Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. Yet in the newly unveiled “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” al Qaeda and bin Laden show up again and again–often for remarks and actions that occurred after the U.S. went to war. The report even quotes the president making the link earlier this year.
Here’s a March 14, 2003, take from the Christian Science Monitor on the Bush administration’s pre-war spin:
In his prime-time press conference last week, which focused almost solely on Iraq, President Bush mentioned Sept. 11 eight times. He referred to Saddam Hussein many more times than that, often in the same breath with Sept. 11.
Bush never pinned blame for the attacks directly on the Iraqi president. Still, the overall effect was to reinforce an impression that persists among much of the American public: that the Iraqi dictator did play a direct role in the attacks. A New York Times/CBS poll this week shows that 45 percent of Americans believe Mr. Hussein was “personally involved” in Sept. 11, about the same figure as a month ago.
Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding Al Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression, as it seeks to maintain American support for a possible war against Iraq and demonstrate seriousness of purpose to Hussein’s regime.
Looks like bin Laden and al Qaeda are coming in handy for Bush again, as evidenced in the following excerpts from the new national strategy.
The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
[. . . ]
Under the heading of “If we and our Iraqi partners fail in Iraq, the terrorists will have:” comes this:
Since 1998, Al Qaida has repeatedly cited Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia, as examples to encourage more attacks against America and our interests overseas.
[. . . ]
The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida. These three groups share a common opposition to the elected Iraqi government and to the presence of Coalition forces, but otherwise have separate and to some extent incompatible goals.
Terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida make up the smallest enemy group but are the most lethal and pose the most immediate threat because (1) they are responsible for the most dramatic atrocities, which kill the most people and function as a recruiting tool for further terrorism and (2) they espouse the extreme goals of Osama Bin Laden – chaos in Iraq which will allow them to establish a base for toppling Iraq’s neighbors and launching attacks outside the region and against the U.S. homeland.
“The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden. For the sake of our nation’s security, this will not happen on my watch.”
– President George W. Bush, June 28, 2005