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Collaborators and Acquaintances


This morning, Glenn Reynolds had seven spontaneous involuntary聽orgasms. Of course, the story tells us nothing new, as the contacts involved seem just about what the 9/11 Commission has suggested.

Let’s talk about cooperation for a bit. Every time a piece of evidence arises suggesting that officials from Al Qaeda and Iraq spoke during the 1990s, the warbloggers start creaming themselves. Now, I agree that establishing a collaborative relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda would go a long way toward justifying the war; for me, it might be the only thing that could justify it. If I believed that Saddam knew about, helped plan, or financially supported the attacks of 9/11, or any other Al Qaeda attacks, the decision to go to war would appear much more reasonable.

What do we know now, and what would we need to know to establish such a point? We know that Al Qaeda officials and Iraqi officials spoke. We know that a member of a group associated with Al Qaeda sought refuge in Iraq, although we don’t know whether the Iraqis were aware of his presence. We know that an Al Qaeda affiliated group operated in a part of Iraq outside Saddam’s control, and that Saddam didn’t take any positive steps to antagonize that group.

That ain’t enough. To convince me, the war lobby needs to show a collaborative relationship, one involving financial support, logistical support, training facilities, intelligence coordination, or territorial sanctuary. Al Qaeda has one or more of those with most countries in the Middle East that aren’t Iraq. Indeed, Iraq is almost unique in its lack of such ties with Al Qaeda. It’s possible that there is more that we don’t know, but if we don’t have the evidence now, after tearing apart Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and the regime in Iraq, I’m pretty doubtful anything is going to emerge.

I’m reminded of the Johnny Cash episode of the Simpsons, when Homer searches for his soul mate at Moes. Instead of finding his soul mate in Barney, Lenny, or Carl, he finds an acquaintance, a crony, and a contemporary. Moe considers himself a well-wisher, in that he wishes no specific harm to come to Homer. The best that the administration has done thus far is establish this sort of well-wisher relationship. But that relationship is far short of a justification for war; if it did justify war, we would have invaded all of Iraq’s neighbors before we touched the Hussein regime.

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