IN OTHER WORDS
It’s hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and September 11. Now President Bush should apologise to the American people, who were led to believe something different.
Of all the ways Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. No serious intelligence analyst believed the connection existed; Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief, wrote in his book that Bush had been told just that. Nevertheless, the Bush administration convinced the Americans before the war that Saddam was linked to 9/11.
This is not just a matter of the president’s diminishing credibility, although that’s disturbing enough. The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be Qaeda forces, including Laden. 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-Qaeda claim to Americans. — The New York Times