21 June, 2004

Liars in high places

I was reading about the recent 9/11 Commission report (#12) which included, amongst other interesting things, a short paragraph about the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida. It's brief enough that I can quote it in full here:
Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaida and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States.

This was widely reported with headlines somewhere along the lines of "9-11 Commission says No Iraq Link". This turns out to be extremely bad news for Dick Cheney and George Bush, who as of two days prior to the report's release were adamantly asserting that such a link existed. Subsequently they have continued to do so, though they're not brave enough to take on the commission - Dick Cheney, for example, yelled at the New York Times for distorting the truth.
The rest of conservative America has followed suit. Now the "media is blatantly lying", and so on, about the report.

Of course, everyone is allowed their own window of subjectivity, but I think the report pretty clearly states that there was no link between Iraq and al-Qaida. We have tenuous reports that feelers were sent out, but not much else. I can only assume those "two senior Bin Ladin associates" are Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah, who probably "adamantly" denied the link despite being tortured (sorry - interrogated) extensively.

This doesn't stop, say, this jackass from lampooning the media, including a reference to the supposed "terrorist" camp found outside of Baghdad.

Which brings me to my point. (Sorry I took so long!)

The camp in question was a decaying training site called Salman Pak. It included, amongst other things, the shell of a passenger jet. It was ostensibly for anti-terrorist training for Iraqi special forces, but others claimed Abu Nidal ran a training camp for Islamists there. In late 2003, conservatives were crowing over a memo which definitively PROVED that Iraq had helped out on the 9-11 attacks. It was a memo to Saddam about the performance of Muhammad Atta, the supposed ringleader of the 9-11 attacks, in his training at the Salman Pak camp. It also happened to include, in the same memo, a note about acquiring "yellow cake" uranium from Niger. If that doesn't sound laughable to you already, you should go stick your head in a cold bucket of water and hold it there for a few minutes.

What's ESPECIALLY laughable is that the memo alleged Atta was training throughout a period when there was extensive FBI documentation that he had been staying in cheap motels in the US, for which there were receipts and everything. In other words, the memo that was supposed to vindicate the American story contradicted the chain of events established by the Americans. Pretty clumsy.

Who's the guilty party? None other than Iyad Allawi, now the god-damn HEAD of the Iraqi provisional government, who assured us that the memo was genuine. Way to go.

The implications of this are pretty staggering. First, the head of Iraq is such a goddamn puppet that he forges memos on behalf of the United States, probably on his own initiative. Second, people have NO MEMORY of these events and go around quoting them as fact willy-nilly.

Third, EVERYONE LIES! How in the name of Christ am I supposed to have any sort of rational opinion when everyone in the entire UNIVERSE lies to me?

As a postscript, it seems Vladimir Putin is also lying, now. Many conservatives are pointing to the fact that Putin announced that he told the US Saddam was preparing terror attacks against them. The media, the conservatives complain, are not picking up on this important story. Well and good. Except NO ONE has any idea what Putin is talking about - not other Russians, not the State Department, nobody.

These people are supposed to be our leaders - our role models. I'm going to follow their example and start making shit up all the time (beware!). And when I raise my kids, I'm going to teach them to lie ALL THE TIME. To hell with this "truth" crap.

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