Vice President Dick Cheney is still trying to convince the people of the world that there was a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion.While appearing on the Rush Limbaugh show Cheney said that al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq before the 2003 U.S. invasion. “He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June. As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.”

The Pentagon declassified a report yesterday, that not only contradicts Cheney, but proves that the war supporters in the administration crafted their own prewar intelligence, using the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OUSD), because they disagreed with the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of the potential for a Iraq/Al-Qaeda relationship. By the summer of 2002, both the CIA and Defense Department had already produced a vastly different assessment that could find no evidence of an OUSD claim that there was a, “mature, symbiotic relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda. In fact the recently declassified report points out, that although it would seem like Iraq and al-Qaeda would be natural partners, they did not work together because each does not trust the other’s motives.

The whole Pentagon report details the shoddy intelligence gathering process, and the faulty conclusions jumped to by the OUSD. In short the official government conclusion is that there was no Iraq/al-Qaeda connection before the U.S. invasion. In what rational people should view as the final nail in the coffin for this myth, the report also reveals that Iraqi government documents and depositions of Saddam Hussein and two of his aides confirm that there was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. It is debatable whether the conclusion of the report that nothing illegal was done by gathering misleading intelligence in the run up to war is true, but I think that even it was illegal, it would be impossible to separate honest mistakes from intentional deception.

Why then, does Cheney keep repeating something that isn’t true? It is well known that the Vice President was heavily involved in the gathering of alternative intelligence before the Iraq war. It is almost like he refuses to believe that al-Qaeda could not have been there. Much like the weapons of mass destruction, he apparently feels that they had to be there whether the United States had the intelligence to prove it or not. It says a great deal about the credibility of Cheney’s statement that he is reduced to making it on the friendly airwaves of Limbaugh’s program. There is no way the Vice President could make that claim to a more objective media source without being challenged, ridiculed, or laughed off the air. To me this just shows how out of it the people who are running this war in Washington, D.C. really are.

The text of the full report

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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