America is Asking…

The commission investigating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, this week released two more staff reports on the hijacking plots. Contradicting the claims of the White House, the commission found that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda. Many American newspapers have noted that this finding undercuts the administration's credibility and that the war in Iraq has diverted valuable resources away from the real war on terrorism. The following is a sample of editorial opinion from around the country.

Lexington, Ky. – Lexington Herald Leader
June 18, 2004

"'No credible evidence.'

"Such a simple phrase, but oh so damning. Three little words that emphatically put the lie to yet another of President Bush's manufactured excuses for invading Iraq.

"By now, we know, too, that the highest leaders in the land — President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and even Secretary of State Colin Powell — misled us, if not intentionally, then out of some misguided zeal that blinded them to the groundlessness of the information they were being fed.

"No WMD. 'No credible evidence' of links between Hussein and al-Qaida. It all translates into no credible leadership for our nation."

Chattanooga, Tenn.– Chattanooga Times Free Press
June 18, 2004

"[Al Qaeda] is a clear and present danger that demands a presidential candor that regrettably has been woefully absent in the aftermath of 9-11 and in the conduct of a war in Iraq that, in truth, has distracted the administration and the nation from the real war on terrorism.

"An interim report from the bipartisan, independent 9-11 Commission thoroughly debunks those claims and thus reveals the duplicity of a president obviously determined to invade Iraq at all costs. 'We have no credible evidence,' the report states, that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States.' It's a conclusive and incisive statement, backed by a long investigation and unique access to a mountain of highly classified documents. It leaves little wiggle room for an administration that, even as late as this week, still continued to claim that such a linkage justified the disastrous and distracting war."

Columbus, Ga. – Columbus Ledger-Inquirer
June 18, 2004

"The disturbing report issued this week by the 9/11 commission cannot be dismissed as mere politics, certainly not of the partisan variety.

"Had those awesome resources [for the war in Iraq] been applied to the real war on terrorism, would we have been able to apprehend Osama bin Laden?

"No one can say. But it's a safe bet that we'd have had a better chance of catching him had we not gotten sidetracked with the Iraq war, which had nothing to do with the war on terrorism.

"The president said this week, 'America is more secure without Saddam Hussein in power.' That's debatable. But there is no debating the fact that we would be a whole heck of a lot safer if we could get Osama bin Laden instead of chasing tin-pot tyrants down rat holes."

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Pittsburgh Post Gazette
June 18, 2004

"This claim of an al-Qaida-Iraq link has been used by the Bush administration as critical underpinning in its argument that the United States had to go to war with Iraq. If the information the commission has put together is correct — and it seems to be very sound — then the claim of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney is either a persistent misunderstanding on their part, or, as some believe, a big lie."

Monterey, Calif. – Monterey County Herald
June 18, 2004

"It's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly Wednesday: There was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.

"Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.

"Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaida claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: Either Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world."

Austin, Texas – Austin American Statesman
June 17, 2004

"It will be all but impossible for Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the administration to continue to insist that Saddam and al Qaeda were intertwined in the fabric of terror. The evidence simply isn't there to make a case that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were partners in the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Whatever intelligence the administration had to suggest such a collaboration apparently was dead wrong. The commission report said bin Laden made overtures to Saddam's regime and asked for help building and training his Islamic army, but nothing ever came of them."

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.