The Magazine

Just the Facts

It is past time that the president insist that his subordinates get the facts out about Iraq's terror connection.

Jan 16, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 17 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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A note at the bottom of the page from the director of one IIS division recommends approving the request, noting, "we may find in this envoy a way to maintain contacts with bin Laden." Four days later, on February 23, final approval is granted. "The permission of Mr. Deputy Director of Intelligence has been gained on 21 February for this operation, to secure a reservation for one of the intelligence services guests for one week in one of the first class hotels."

The al Qaeda emissary came to Baghdad on March 5, 1998. Notes in the margins of the Iraqi Intelligence memos indicate that someone named, or using the name, Mohammed F. Mohammed stayed as the guest of Iraqi Intelligence in Room 414 of the Al Mansour Melia Hotel. The documents note that bin Laden's envoy extended his trip by one week, departing on March 16. The U.S. intelligence community has these documents and believes that they are authentic.

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Why can't the American public be permitted to read these documents in their entirety--and all the rest?

The Bush administration has shied away from engaging the issue of Saddam and his terror ties. This is both foolish and unmanly. The president is neither. It is past time that he insist that his subordinates get the facts out. Then we can have a serious debate, and reach a better-grounded judgment, about the terror connection. Our reporting so far convinces us of the reality and the significance of the terror connection. But we want all the facts--and we trust the purveyors of the conventional wisdom will join us in asking for all the facts as well.

-William Kristol