Bush Kept Intelligence From Congress — The List Grows

Ken AshfordBush & Co., IraqLeave a Comment

From The National Journal:

Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the "President’s Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public statements by foreign leaders.

One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Much of the contents of the September 21 PDB were later incorporated, albeit in a slightly different form, into a lengthier CIA analysis examining not only Al Qaeda’s contacts with Iraq, but also Iraq’s support for international terrorism. Although the CIA found scant evidence of collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the agency reported that it had long since established that Iraq had previously supported the notorious Abu Nidal terrorist organization, and had provided tens of millions of dollars and logistical support to Palestinian groups, including payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

The highly classified CIA assessment was distributed to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the president’s national security adviser and deputy national security adviser, the secretaries and undersecretaries of State and Defense, and various other senior Bush administration policy makers, according to government records.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.

Indeed, the existence of the September 21 PDB was not disclosed to the Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004, according to congressional sources. Both Republicans and Democrats requested then that it be turned over. The administration has refused to provide it, even on a classified basis, and won’t say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.


The conclusions drawn in the lengthier CIA assessment-which has also been denied to the committee-were strikingly similar to those provided to President Bush in the September 21 PDB, according to records and sources. In the four years since Bush received the briefing, according to highly placed government officials, little evidence has come to light to contradict the CIA’s original conclusion that no collaborative relationship existed between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

"What the President was told on September 21," said one former high-level official, "was consistent with everything he has been told since-that the evidence was just not there."

Trip down memory lane time.  Even though the CIA was telling Bush there was no collaborative relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, we still got these lies from the Administration:

President George W. Bush on Al-Qaeda:
"The regime . . . has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other."
Source: President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours, White House (3/17/2003).
President George W. Bush on Al-Qaeda:
"He has trained and financed al Qaeda-type organizations before, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations."
Source: President George Bush Discusses Iraq in National Press Conference, White House (3/6/2003).
President George W. Bush on Al-Qaeda:
"Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraq intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in aquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner."
Source: President’s Radio Address, White House (2/8/2003).
President George W. Bush on Al-Qaeda:
"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help develop their own."
Source: President Delivers "State of the Union", White House (1/28/2003).
Vice President Richard Cheney on Al-Qaeda:
"I think there’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. We’ve discovered since documents indicating that a guy named Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was a part of the team that attacked the World Trade Center in ’93, when he arrived back in Iraq was put on the payroll and provided a house, safe harbor and sanctuary. That’s public information now. So Saddam Hussein had an established track record of providing safe harbor and sanctuary for terrorists. . . . I mean, this is a guy who was an advocate and a supporter of terrorism whenever it suited his purpose, and I’m very confident that there was an established relationship there."
Source: Morning Edition, NPR (1/22/2004).
Vice President Richard Cheney on Al-Qaeda:
"Saddam Hussein had a lengthy history of reckless and sudden aggression. His regime cultivated ties to terror, including the al Qaeda network, and had built, possessed, and used weapons of mass destruction."
Source: Richard B. Cheney Delivers Remarks to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, White House (1/14/2004).
Vice President Richard Cheney on Al-Qaeda:
"Saddam Hussein had a lengthy history of reckless and sudden aggression. He cultivated ties to terror — hosting the Abu Nidal organization, supporting terrorists, and making payments to the families of suicide bombers. He also had an established relationship with Al Qaida — providing training to Al Qaida members in areas of poisons, gases and conventional bombs. He built, possessed, and used weapons of mass destruction."

Source: Richard B. Cheney Delivers Remarks at the James A. Baker, III, Institute for Public Policy, White House (10/18/2003).

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on Al-Qaeda:

"QUESTION: Is there any question in your mind about the al Qaeda connection? Did Powell totally convince people today in that area?

RICE: There is no question in my mind about the al Qaeda connection. It is a connection that has unfolded, that we’re learning more about as we are able to take the testimony of detainees, people who were high up in the al Qaeda organization.

Source: Larry King Live, CNN (2/5/2003).

There are many more quotes in which the Administration made the Saddam-al Qaeda connection, even though (we now know) the Administration received intelligence doubting that connection, and that intelligence was not shared with Congress.  In fact, it’s STILL not being shared with Congress!!