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More Word Games

5:24 PM, Mar 24, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Earlier today Joscelyn noted the word games being played over Saddam's connection to terrorist groups, specifically Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which later merged with al Qaeda. In his latest book, Cheney, Steve Hayes recounted one such incidence:

In 2002, the vice president had been briefed on fresh intelligence that members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad had made their way to Iraq and had begun setting up safe houses in Baghdad. Cheney found the report interesting, but odd. He had understood that Egyptian Islamic Jihad had merged with al Qaeda several years earlier. Ayman al Zawahiri, the group's longtime leader, was now Osama bin Laden's chief deputy. Cheney wanted to know why the report did not simply conclude that al Qaeda was setting up safe houses in Baghdad.

He returned the report to the CIA with a question: Would it be accurate to substitute "al Qaeda" for every mention of "Egyptian Islamic Jihad?" The answer did not come immediately, but when it did, the CIA finally acknowledged that members of al Qaeda were operating in Baghdad.

To Cheney, the episode was one example of many that demonstrated the unwillingness of some CIA analysts to take an objective look at Iraq and its support for radical Islamic terrorists, al Qaeda in particular. In this case, analysts were so determined to avoid reporting the presence of al Qaeda members in Iraq that they presented Cheney with a less-than-accurate description of the situation in Baghdad.

Who was that CIA agent playing word games with Cheney anyway?