Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Bush had to know that claims of Al Qaeda/Saddam link were likely false.

Via Senator Carl Levin's office:

The Administration made repeated assertions that Iraq had provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. For example, President Bush said in a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." In February 2003, the President said, "Iraq has provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training."

Those assertions were based on the claims of a detainee, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a long-time jihadist and senior military trainer for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. However, as revealed by this newly declassified information, the DIA did not believe al-Libi’s claims at the time the Administration was making its assertions. Specifically, the DIA concluded the following in February 2002, which has never previously been publicly disclosed.

An excerpt from the declassified DIA document:

This is the first report from Ibn al-Shaykh in which he claims Iraq assisted al-Qaida’s CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear] efforts. However, he lacks specific details on the Iraqis involved, the CBRN materials associated with the assistance, and the location where training occurred. It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the de-briefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the de-briefers that he knows will retain their interest.

Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.

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