What lies beneath the lies
Weekly Standard All-Star Fabulist, Stephen F. Hayes:
Ask fifty Washington reporters for an assessment of Scott McClellan and forty-nine of them will give you some version of this: He’s a nice guy who was in way over his head. (Most of them will be tougher in their analysis of his intellect.)
Does Stephen really want to go there? Probably not, but tough shit.
As Spencer Ackerman wrote:
Hayes, in the Standard, has made a career out of pretending Saddam and Al Qaeda were in league to attack the United States. He published a book — tellingly wafer-thin and with large type in its hardcover edition — called "The Connection." One infamous piece even suggested that Saddam might have aided the 9/11 attack. Hayes can be relied on to provide a farrago of speciousness every time new information emerges refuting his deceptive thesis. Unsurprisingly, Cheney has repeatedly praised Hayes’s work, telling Fox News, "I think Steve Hayes has done an effective job in his article of laying out a lot of those connections."
Every single inquiry into the Saddam/Al Qaeda link has revealed it to be untrue. First, in 2004, the 9/11 Commission’s definitive study found "no collaborative operational ties" between the two. (Hayes’ response was first to attack the commission, and then to claim that this was a legalistic way of saying that Saddam and Al Qaeda were actually in league.) Then, in 2006, the Senate intelligence committee rejected it. Then, in 2007, the Pentagon inspector general — albeit in a more circuitous way — rejected it. Now, in a report released last week, the U.S. military’s Joint Forces Command rejects it.
The Joint Forces Command study combed through 600,000 pages of captured documents about Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism throughout the years. It documents, in great detail, precisely that. But the label "terrorism" is a misleading category. The study refutes the idea that there was any "direct connection" between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Saddam’s support for terrorism was largely limited to Palestinian, anti-Kurdish and anti-Gulf state terrorist groups. (See the JFC’s Executive Summary here, another excerpt here and conclusions.)
About as close as anything could come to linking Saddam to Al Qaeda was a memo from one Saddam’s intelligence services "written a decade before Operation Iraqi Freedom." It says: "In a meeting in the Sudan we agreed to renew our relations with the Islamic Jihad Organization in Egypt." That organization would eventually merge with Al Qaeda in the late 1990s, long after the apparent meeting in Sudan. It also says that for a time in the mid-1990s, Saddam and Al Qaeda had "indirect cooperation" by offering "training and motivation" to some of the same terror organizations in that country.
Out of this thin gruel, Hayes attempted to make a meal in the Standard’s pages this week. He lifted as many bullet points from the report as he could that, out of context, seemed to bolster his theory. He then went about attacking reporters who accurately wrote that the study found no direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Hayes tacitly promised his readers that history will ultimately vindicate him, writing that "as much as we have learned from this impressive collection of documents, it is only a fraction of what we will know in 10, 20 or 50 years." And he expressed puzzlement that an administration with an obvious credibility problem had not "done anything to promote the study."
How stupid do you have to be to be the the official stenographer for the stupidest fucking guy on earth?
Pretty fucking stupid.