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How Did We Get From 9/11 to Iraq?

You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m not feeling very well this morning. I’m sick to my stomach over the reality I see out over the horizon. And believe me, it has nothing to do with ABC’s desperate docudrama. I mean really, showing the Washington monument immediately after a news clip of Clinton talking about the Lewinsky imbroglio? Republicans have such a phallic fetish. But in the middle of a miniseries on 9/11 it’s un-American blasphemy.

Maybe by mid-morning I’ll be able to compose myself. For now, all bets are off.

First, I’m sick to my stomach that Vice President Dick Cheney is talking about Afghanistan. Afghanistan? We’re in trouble in Afghanistan? Now? After all these years? Why is that, I wonder?

MR. RUSSERT: Pakistan has now a peace pact with the terrorists in the area where we think bin Laden is, creating what Richard Clarke, the former White House adviser on terrorism, calls a “sanctuary.” And reports from the RAND Corporation that the Pakistan CIA, the ISI, are in…


MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, are in cahoots with the Taliban. So if the Pakistanis aren’t willing to seek bin Laden, and have a peace pact with the terrorists, where are we?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t buy the premature question, Tim.

"Meet the Press"

Whether the vice president buys the premise or not is immaterial. George W. Bush is responsible for Afghanistan now going south and so is every other Republican, including Dick Cheney, because all of them helped make Afghanistan less stable the minute they turned their attention towards Iraq.

I know, it’s 9/11, so why am I talking about such things this morning, of all mornings? Because somewhere on the way to making the men who hit us five years ago today pay our president lost his way. We’ve gone from a Pet Goat moment to a Pet Goat presidency. For what?

I’m angry because George W. Bush used every single one of us to launch a preemptive attack on a nation that had about as much to do with 9/11 and terrorism targeting this country as Finland. It’s the most egregious, radical miscalculation in our nation’s history and it was done with great deliberation, forethought and cynical calculation. George W. Bush played on our sympathies and fears, then used the Congress of the United States to wage a war of vengeance for 9/11, leaving the real target in Afghanistan free to escape, regroup and plan to attack another day. Then long after the truth was known the Republican Party continued to back him, and now they want to walk away from their man because elections are near. I don’t think so.

Five years after the American massacre of 9/11, the very man who was responsible, along with his maniacal terror spawn, have negotiated sanctuary close to the very area where we once had him pinned down.

But George W. Bush couldn’t be bothered with such details back then. He had other things on his mind. So instead of getting the man who targeted this country, George W. Bush added to the thousands of dead that day, 2,668 dead American solders (and counting), with thousands of wounded and maimed, not to mention the broken homes and lives in the wake of his decision. A commander in chief needs to take better aim.

Our intelligence wasn’t nearly as bad as George W. Bush led us to believe on Iraq. He and his administration, starting with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice made the case they wanted us to hear so they could wage the war they wanted to wage, which had nothing to do with getting him. The man who perpetrated the American massacre on 9/11 five years ago today.

The latest Senate Intelligence Report, dumped late last Friday, tells the story George W. Bush didn’t want us to know before election 2004. The story the Republicans helped keep secret from the American public so that yet another Democratic presidential candidate would come up short and the Republicans could once again ride into the sunset with our democracy.

Five years after 9/11 it’s once again time to ask why Osama bin Laden is still alive. Or better yet, why did Bush and the Republicans disband the Bin Laden Unit? Oh, but wait. Bush said he didn’t disband it. Then why did two Democratic senators create legislation to restore funding to the unit just last week?

Conrad and Dorgan introduced their amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill after public reports that the Administration had disbanded the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, and had previously shifted Arabic-trained military units off the hunt for the terrorist leader in Afghanistan. In a 23-page White House report on counterterrorism strategy released Tuesday, bin Laden’s name appears once, and only as an example of how some terrorists are well educated.

"Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda, planned, financed and organized a terrorist operation that killed thousands of Americans. It has now been more than 1,800 days since those attacks, and this man is still on the loose. This man has still not been brought to justice," Senator Conrad said. "The Senate agrees that it is chief among our priorities in the war on terror to bring the mastermind behind Sept. 11 to the justice that a mass murderer deserves."

Senate OK’s Conrad, Dorgan bin Laden Amendment

George W. Bush can’t even tell the truth about something as sacred as hunting down the man responsible for 9/11. There is no honor and dignity in such behavior and a president who would act so callously has no integrity.

People will say I’m being political, that I hate George W. Bush. What people think of me is immaterial. The truth of it is that today I am simply an American who doesn’t understand why we let the man who perpetrated the American massacre on 9/11 get away. It infuriates me, sickens me. It’s not that I think it would change the attacks in Iraq, or solve the Middle East challenges. It’s because when someone commits mass murder on American soil he doesn’t get to walk away free and negotiate safe havens with our "ally," while American soldiers continue to die for retribution that was way off target.

But the worst of it is that upon the dead of 9/11, George W. Bush has now placed the bodies of 2,668 American soldiers, including thousands of wounded and maimed, while perpetrating a fraud on the American people who trusted him to make the wrong right. It doesn’t get any worse than what George W. Bush did after 9/11. He has dishonored the victims of 9/11, then added insult to murder by taking us into a war for vindication when the real enemy hid elsewhere. We now have the proof, which makes today all the more painful.

G. Conclusions

(U) Conclusion 1: Postwar findings indicate that the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) assessment that the relationship between Iraq and al-Qa’ida resembled "two independent actors trying to exploit each other," accurately characterized bin Ladin’s actions, but not those of Saddam Hussein. Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa’ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qa’ida to provide material or operational support. …

(U) Conclusion 2: Postwar findings have identified only one meeting between representatives of al-Qa’ida and Saddam Hussein’s regime reported in prewar intelligence assessments. Postwar findings have identified two occasions, not reported prior to the war, in which Saddam Hussein rebuffed meeting requests from an al-Qa’ida operative. The Intelligence Community has not found any other evidence of meetings between al-Qa’ida and Iraq. …

(–redacted–) Conclusion 3: Prewar Intelligence Community assessments were inconsistent regarding the likelihood that Saddam Hussein provided chemical and biological weapons (CBW) training to al-Qa’ida. Postwar findings support the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) February 2002 assessment that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was likely intentionally misleading his debriefers when he said that Iraq provided two al-Qa’ida associates with chemical and biological weapons (CBW) training in 2000. The Central Intelligence Agency’s January 2003 assessment said the al-Libi claim was credible, but included the statement that al-Libi was not in a position to know whether the training had taken place. Postwar findings do not support the CIA’s assessment that his reporting was credible. No postwar information has been found that indicates CBW training occurred and the detainee who provided the key prewar reporting about this training recanted his claims after the war. …

(U) Conclusion 4: Postwar findings support the April 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment that there was no credible reporting on al-Qa’ida training at Salman Pak or anywhere else in Iraq. …

(U) Conclusion 5: … … Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi. … … Postwar information from an al-Qa’ida detainee indicated that Saddam’s regime "considered al-Zarqawi an outlaw" and blamed his network, operating in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, for two bombings in Baghdad. …

(U) Conclusion 6: Postwar information indicates that the Intelligence Community accurately assessed that al-Qa’ida affiliate group Ansar al-Islam operated in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Iraq, an area that Baghdad had not controlled since 1991. Prewar assessments reported on Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) infiltrations of the group, but noted uncertainty regarding the purpose of the infiltrations. Postwar information reveals that Baghdad viewed Ansar al-Islam as a threat to the regime and that the IIS attempted to collect intelligence on the group.

(–redacted–) Conclusion 7: Postwar information supports prewar Intelligence Community assessments that there was no credible information that Iraq was complicit in or had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks or any other al-Qa’ida strike. These assessments discussed two leads which raised the possibility of ties between Iraqi officials and two of the September 11 hijackers. Postwar findings support CIA’s January 2003 assessment, which judged that "the most reliable reporting casts doubt" on one of the leads, an alleged meeting between Muhammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague, and confirm that no such meeting occurred. Prewar intelligence reporting cast doubt on the other lead as well.

(U) Conclusion 8: No postwar information indicates that Iraq intended to use al-Qa’ida or any other terrorist group to strike the United States homeland before or during Operation Iraqi Freedom. …

(U) Conclusion 9: While document exploitation continues, additional reviews of documents recovered in Iraq are unlikely to provide information that would contradict the Committee’s findings or conclusions. …

Senate Intelligence Report – Phase II (pg. 105 – 112 – emphasis original)

I can’t help but say I’m sorry for how this day hits me. I don’t intend or desire to make political hay on our nation’s open wound, but I’m simply so furious there is no quarter for those in power who used our deepest collective pain to wage war on an ideological whim, while letting a mass murderer get away.

Osama bin Laden is still alive. There’s only one reason why. George W. Bush put Saddam Hussein above getting our greatest enemy, and avenging the deaths of those innocent souls killed on 9/11. There’s nothing else left to say.

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Taylor Marsh

Taylor Marsh

Taylor is a political commentator and radio personality who has been interviewed by C-SPAN's Washington Journal and all across TV and right-wing radio. She's been on the web for 10 years, going to blogging in late 2005. Taylor is affiliated with The Patriot Project, writes for Huffington Post, as well as Alternet. Her radio show debuted in 2002, which she now brings to her blog Mon-Thur, 6:00 p.m. Eastern or 3:00 p.m. Pacific. One of her passions is painting and creating political art. The graphic at the top of her blog is taken from the expressionist flag art that hangs in her home. She was born in Missouri, and has lived in New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas and some points in between.