It’s sad and pathetic, in a truly hilarious kind of way, to watch as Stephen Hayes flails ineffectually at the notion that there was no direct connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. We’ve gone from forthright claims of a close operational connection between the two entities to shadowy intimations of third party relations derived from second hand sources:
This ought to be big news. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, Saddam Hussein actively supported an influential terrorist group headed by the man who is now al Qaeda’s second-in-command, according to an exhaustive study issued last week by the Pentagon. “Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.” According to the Pentagon study, Egyptian Islamic Jihad was one of many jihadist groups that Iraq’s former dictator funded, trained, equipped, and armed.
Which amounts to: Saddam knew a guy, and this guy knew Osama, and thus CONNECTION!!!!1!!11!!; it’s like playing Six Degrees of Saddam Hussein, and about as pointless.
I know some people who write for the Weekly Standard, and contrary to common opinion in the lefty blogosphere they’re not all complete hacks; some of them make at least a middling effort at appearing to be intellectually honest. I have to imagine that they see Hayes as a pathetic figure; he built his reputation around THE CONNECTION!!1!!!1!!, and as that edifice has crumbled to the point where conspiracy theorists who believe that aliens killed JFK shake their heads and mutter “That Hayes guy… he’s really grasping at straws”, it has to be just a bit uncomfortable to keep receiving submissions delineating the relationship of Saddam’s sister’s brother’s cousin’s roommate to a guy who once parked cars outside of a hotel 6% of which was owned by a guy who went to elementary school with a guy who once knew a guy who had seen Osama Bin Laden on TV. This is not to say that Hayes will ever be repudiated; to do so would be slightly more embarrassing that continuing to publish his nonsense.