By John F. McManus (JBS)
A declassified report compiled before the invasion of Iraq shows there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein's government was cooperating with al Qaeda. The Bush administration, therefore, had strong evidence that its claim about al Qaeda's involvement in Iraq was false. But our top government officials insisted that such involvement was certain and proceeded to launch the invasion.
Follow this link to the source article: Cheney reasserts Saddam link to al-Qaida
After assessing the possibility that Iraq and al Qaeda were partners and had cooperated in the 9/11 attack on the U.S., the Defense Department's Acting Inspector General, Thomas A. Gimble, issued a report in 2002 saying that such a claim was not accurate. But that claim, along with several other claims shown separately to be inaccurate, formed the basis for the Bush administration's determination to invade Iraq in March 2003.
After studying this 2002 report immediately after it had been written, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith informed Defense Department officials that an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship was "mature." His briefing to department colleagues claimed ten categories of cooperation. He even leaked his own assessment to the intensely pro-war Weekly Standard magazine.
During 2002, a separate CIA report concluded that there were no substantial contacts between the Hussein government and the terrorist group. Thomas Gimble pointed to this CIA conclusion in his report, but it too was completely contradicted by Feith and others in the Defense Department. Also contradicted by the Feith-led team were denials about supposed hard evidence that Iraq was busily working to create weapons of mass destruction.
The now-unclassified AIG 2002 report pointed also to a Defense Intelligence Agency conclusion that discounted claims about Iraq-al Qaeda cooperation.
Each of these assessments has proven to be accurate but each was completely disregarded in favor of ratcheting up war fever. Had they been given proper consideration, there may never have been an invasion of Iraq.
On the very April 5, 2007 day when the Gimble report was declassified, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed during a guest appearance on the Rush Limbaugh radio program that al Qaeda had been "operating in Iraq" and because it was, the war was proper. Cheney even stated that the al Qaeda forces in Iraq were led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader killed in June 2006. He obviously remains committed to continuing a war that several of our nation's intelligence groups believed was unjustified before it began.