As you may recall, two main reasons were given to "justify" the American invasion and subsequent occupation of a defenseless oil-rich country. One of them was an alleged tie between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, possibly evidenced by a purported meeting between an Iraqi intelligence official and the putative lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta.
The other reason, of course, was Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction. The president, in one of his most delightful moments of levity, has admitted that this claim was only a joke.
And now the claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaeda, long challenged by opponents of the war, has been thoroughly debunked in a comprehensive study made by -- no! not another conspiracy theorist! -- the Institute for Defense Analyses, under contract with the Pentagon itself.
We weren't supposed to see the report. We weren't even supposed to see the press release announcing the release of the report. Well, guess what?
ABC News (of Australia) carried this story from AFP:
No link between Saddam and Al Qaeda: Pentagon
A detailed Pentagon study confirms there was no direct link between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and the Al Qaeda network, debunking a claim US President George W Bush's administration used to justify invading Iraq.Indeed. But that lame attempt failed dismally -- and here's the report, a 94-page PDF, courtesy of ABC (US) News via TPM via Gandhi!
The US administration tried to bury the release of the study, limiting distribution of the report and making it available only at individual request and by mail - instead of posting it on the internet or handing it out to reporters.
The AFP report from Australia continues:
Coming five years after the start of the war in Iraq, the study of 600,000 official Iraqi documents and thousands of hours of interrogations of former Saddam Hussein colleagues "found no smoking gun between Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda," said the study, quoted in US media.Can we talk about impeachment now? Can we talk about war crimes and crimes against humanity? How about some justice? How about some restitution?? How about some punishment????
Other reports by the blue-ribbon September 11 commission and the Pentagon's inspector general in 2007 reached the same conclusion but none had access to as much information.
"The Iraqi Perspective Project review of captured Iraqi documents uncovered strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism" and "state terrorism became a routine tool of state power" but "the predominant target of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens," said a summary of the Pentagon study.
Mr Bush, US Vice President Dick Cheney and top aides have insisted there were links between Saddam and Al Qaeda, citing the alleged ties as a rationale for going to war in Iraq.
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda," Mr Bush said in June 2004.
Oh no! It's not possible, because we live in a democracy and we have a choice: We can have John McCain and troops in Iraq for another hundred years; or we can have Hillary Clinton and troops in Iraq forever; or we can have Barack Obama and be very very nice to everyone you meet and hope it will all work out fine in the end.