Lamest defense ever

As the administration aggressively attempts to contain the damage done by the 9/11 commission report that contradicted its repeated assertions of cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, it and its apologists have wheeled out some of the weakest arguments ever. (See editorials in The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.) It generally goes like this:

1. We already knew there was no Iraq involvement in 9/11; this isn't news; why are you making such a big fuss about it? Probably because reporters are so liberal.

2. The commission didn't say anything different than what the administration has been saying — it acknowledges longstanding ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Yeah. Right.

1. It's true that we've known for quite awhile that there was no Iraqi involvement in 9/11. Unfortunately, before the Iraq war a clear majority of Americans thought there was, and right before the commission reports 40 percent still thought there was. This is a serious indictment against both the administration and the news media. Such shocking ignorance would not have been possible without a clear effort by the administration to confuse people and imply that there was a link, or the media's absolute failure to correct the administration's propaganda. If some official report is the excuse the media need to finally fix things, it doesn't seem like a distraction at all.

2. It's true the commission acknowledged repeated contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda. But the administration was never talking about mere phone calls — it was talking about active cooperation, which according to the report never occurred. The administration and its defenders need to make up their minds. Did we invade Iraq because of its supposed links to international terrorism? (In which case the administration was lying about those links.) Or did we invade Iraq because the government exchanged pleasantries with Al Qaeda — and then refused to help it. (In which case Botswana could be next.)

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