A fantastic New York Sun editorial, here. Guess who said this?
"Our evidence suggests that Baghdad is strengthening a relationship with al-Qaeda that dates back to the mid-1990s, when senior Iraqi intelligence officers established contact with the network in several countries." "We have some evidence that Iraqi Intelligence has been in contact with elements in the northeastern area. And the al-Qaeda operatives there are in regular contact with other operatives located in Baghdad. The Iraqi government has also received information from other sources alerting it to the presence of al-Qaeda operatives in Baghdad." "We have hard evidence that al-Qaeda is operating in several locations in Iraq with the knowledge and acquiescence of Saddam's regime."
It's not -- as you might have imagined -- Dick Cheney or something published in The Weekly Standard. It was Carl Ford, from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. As the editorial notes, his agency "was singled out for praise after the war for its dissenting assessment of Iraq's nuclear program." (And, we would add, its general skepticism that Saddam Hussein's Iraq presented any kind of a threat to the United States.) More from the editorial:
But on the question of meaningful links between Al Qaeda and Iraq, something the anti-war movement believes never existed, the evidence suggests a more nuanced picture than Mr. Rockefeller has portrayed. This is where Mr. Ford's January 31, 2003, memo comes into play. Mr. Ford's memo came on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His words demolish a talking point for Democrats who still say Al Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq until the coalition of the willing invaded. Mr. Ford wrote that the former emir of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi "has had a good relationship with Iraqi intelligence officials." He added that intelligence on Qaeda "revealed the presence of safe house facilities in the city as well as the clear intent to remain in Baghdad. Also, foreign NGO workers outside of Iraq who are believed to provide support to al-Qaeda have also expressed their intent to set up shop in Baghdad." We would not be surprised if some of the administration's critics were to say that Mr. Ford's memo is itself evidence of political pressure on career bureaucrats. But the Democrats have relied on Mr. Ford before, for his testimony against John Bolton. In any event, if the supposed political pressure was impossible to withstand, how to explain the fact that Mr. Ford and his shop dissented from the national intelligence estimate on Iraq's nuclear program, which played a much bigger role in the Bush administration's case for war? Also the committee looked at only the finished intelligence products but not the daily spot analyses the intelligence community produces for senior administration officials. Mr. Rockefeller decided to exclude a handwritten note from the CIA's terrorism analyst of the Mr. Bush's 2002 speech in Cincinnati on the eve of the Congressional vote authorizing the war saying the paragraphs about Iraq and terrorism were "all-Okay." Wrote Senators Bond, Chambliss, Hatch, and Burr in an addendum to the report: "Apparently the majority did not think this was something the public needed to know since they denied our request to include it and did not allow a vote on the amendment offered to fix this shortcoming." These are inconvenient facts for Democrats that decided some time in 2004 that they could wash their hands of the war for Iraq by claiming they were duped by the president and his conservative backers. It turns out that even their own investigation mocks their claim.
Two Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel, voted for the partisan report.
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