« Arnold Drops | Main | Practice What He Preaches »

June 29, 2005

Crazy Congressmen Who Pay Attention

Last year, during the presidential debates, a girl named Tammy wandered into where my girlfriend, some friends, and I were watching Kerry's dismantling of Bush. This was during the first confrontation, the one between the Incredible Shrinking President and his surprisingly large challenger. Bush, you'll remember, slipped up and blamed Hussein for 9/11. Kerry caught him. Bush admitted the mistake. Tammy said he was right the first time. The rest of us looked at her. Finally, I knew what "agog" felt like.

Her argument wasn't what one would call an argument, more a set of gut level intuitions. In the end, after hearing Bush's handpicked 9/11 Commission obliterated the linkage, she shook her head and said: "Well they're wrong. It's just common sense." Not the most heartening conversation. On the other hand, at least she's not a congressman:

"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that Saddam was a dangerous man, but when asked about Hayes' statement, would not link the deposed Iraqi ruler to the terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

"I haven't seen compelling evidence of that," McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN.

The 9/11 Commission had full access to all levels of information and they thought the same as McCain. Even Bush, who one would think has fairly high level clearance, said "We have no evidence that Hussein was involved with the September 11 [attacks]."

Of course, that's not exactly what came out of his mouth last night. Yesterday's speech about Iraq mentioned 9/11 six times, but WMD's were wholly absent. Osama bin-Laden appeared in the speech twice as often as Zarqawi or Saddam, and the term "terrorist" was used almost 4 times as often as "insurgent" ("terror), for its part, popped by 5 times). If Hayes is crazier than most, all he's doing is listening closer than the rest of us.

Also: Don't miss Rep. Hayes' website, home of the most patriotic banner of all times. Superimposed on an American flag is a fighter jet, astronauts, cotton, and NASCAR. I broke into a spontaneous rendition of our national anthem as soon as the image loaded.

June 29, 2005 in Republicans | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c572d53ef00d8342306b253ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Crazy Congressmen Who Pay Attention:

» GOP Congressman says he has secret information connectiong 9/11 to Saddam from Grubbykid.com :: Links
GOP Congressman says he has secret information connectiong 9/11 to Saddam... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 29, 2005 3:52:49 PM

» GOP Congressman says he has secret information connectiong 9/11 to Saddam from Grubbykid.com :: Links
GOP Congressman says he has secret information connectiong 9/11 to Saddam... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 29, 2005 6:45:35 PM

» Make Rep. Robin Hayes Prove It from Digital Dissent
Congressman Robin Hayes of North Carolina has come out with a completely outlandish, but incredibly old and widely discredited claim: Iraq was involved in al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack. And, no, the claim wasn't made in obtuse language -- Hayes came right out... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 29, 2005 8:08:57 PM

Comments

That's actually not a fighter jet. That's a C130 cargo transport or something. Not exactly the sexiest airplane in the world.

Posted by: helium3 | Jun 29, 2005 2:20:59 PM

Certainly there has been no evidence that Hussein or Iraq were in any way directly involved in the operation or planning of the attacks on 9/11 or that they had foreknowledge of the event.

The question of whether Iraq provided support or protection to Al-Qaida is more complex. Certainly they provided at least some minor support and the fact of meetings between Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaida leaders in well established. One can conclude reasonably though that any direct support of Al-Qaida by Iraq was not very substantial.

As to whether Iraq provided substantial support to non-Al Qaida terrorists, that is incontrovertable.

Of course the President has never advocated a policy of combating only Al Qaida, rather he has advocated a broad attack against all terrorist organizations of global reach. One could possibly argue with this goal, but to argue that he is not following his stated goals of attacking terrorist supporters because Iraq did not substantially support Al-Qaida is unreasonable.

btw: The plane in Hayes' banner photo is most certainly not a fighter jet, being neither a fighter nor a jet.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jun 29, 2005 2:32:12 PM

on the support to al qaeda front, we mustn't forget that Bush passed up several chances to strike al-Zarqawi in the runup to the Iraq war because he felt it would weaken, however wrongly, the case for war. So in a way Bush himself already calculated that the Al Qaeda connection was not significant enough to merit direct action.

In terms of did Hussein ever help anyone associated with Al Qaeda, well, that's setting the bar pretty low. The CIA has certainly helped people associated with Al Qaeda knowingly and unknowingly. That doesn't make the CIA an invasion-worthy accomplice to 9/11...

Posted by: bob | Jun 29, 2005 2:52:45 PM

Even if Hussein did help instigate 9/11 should we still have invaded the entire country rather than sending him a few well placed strategic missiles as well as more stealthy infiltration of terrorist organizations?

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Jun 29, 2005 3:23:06 PM

I think you are dealing with two different time frames.

Iraq was invaded because of the perceived threat of WMD. Most Democrats believed he may have them. Certainly Western Europe thought so including the French and Germans. If anyone would like some quotes of Democrats, including those who had access to the most sensitive intelligence, who voted for the war on these grounds, I think I can rustle up some quotes for you. Saddam had many chances to show differently, but chose, instead to snub the UN inspectors at every turn.

So the argument goes like this: Everyone, and I mean everyone including the entire security council (see Res. 1441) believed Hussain had WMD. They have not been found. Now we, and the Iraqi people, are attacked constantly by terrorists who deliberately target children, police, politicians, and women. They do not fight by rules. They burn and hang bodies off bridges and decapitate live captured civilians and put recordings of these atrocities on the internet for all to see their crimes in an effort to thwart any efforts at democracy.

What Bush said last night about the current fight was true and McCain gets it. The majority of those suicide bombers are not Iraqi. Most likely most the insurgents aren't either. It is now the forefront of the war on terror and those who bomb teaching hospitals and police stations killing mostly Iraqis are, indeed, terrorists....terrorists with alliance to Al-Queda. Fight them there...or fight them here.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 29, 2005 3:33:45 PM

Cotton is really very important.

Posted by: John Emerson | Jun 29, 2005 3:35:30 PM

I think those are soldiers, not astronauts. They certainly have a lot of bulky equipment, though.

Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Jun 29, 2005 3:43:18 PM

What Bush said last night about the current fight was true and McCain gets it. The majority of those suicide bombers are not Iraqi. Most likely most the insurgents aren't either. It is now the forefront of the war on terror and those who bomb teaching hospitals and police stations killing mostly Iraqis are, indeed, terrorists....terrorists with alliance to Al-Queda. Fight them there...or fight them here.

But why did we entice the terrorists there, and encourage so many Iraqis to become terrorists?

Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Jun 29, 2005 3:44:15 PM

It is now the forefront of the war on terror and those who bomb teaching hospitals and police stations killing mostly Iraqis are, indeed, terrorists....terrorists with alliance to Al-Queda. Fight them there...or fight them here.

This is only the latest rationalization for this elective war. After the WMD theory petered out, the next rationalization was that we were "freeing" the Iraqis from their dangerous regime government and giving the Iraqis a safe country to live in. That one hung around for awhile.
I see now that the wingnuts have totally abandoned that rationalization in favor of saying that we deliberately took the fight to the Iraqis' country, to spare ourselves the horrors of any potential terrorist fights in the USA. Gee, no wonder they are so pissed at us.
Also, US intel reports that about 1 in 13 insurgents are non-Iraqi. I'll provide the link if ya like.

Posted by: sprocket | Jun 29, 2005 3:47:05 PM

"Saddam had many chances to show differently, but chose, instead to snub the UN inspectors at every turn."

God, its like I have slipped into an alternate reality.

There were inspectors in the country right before the war, they weren't finding any WMDs, and they were telling the press that the info the US was giving them about where to look - -you know, the same US whose leaders said they knew where the WMDs where -- was useless crap.

In short, the whole word knew that the WMD thing was crap at that point.

Now to your morally obscene fly paper strategy.

For the record, the CIA now says that Iraq is a better training ground for terrorists than Afghanistan was. Was that true before the invasion? And why or why, oh wise one, is it suddenly impossible for terrorists, once they have earned their chops, to say, leave Iraq and go to, oh, I don't know, pick a country, lets say ...the United States, and commit terrorist acts there? is there some sort of anti-terrorist field that magically lets terrorists in but doesn;t let them back out?

And for the record, how many terrorists do you think it creates every time one of you idiots justifies all the death and destruction in Iraq with that stupid better them than us nonsense?

And, finally, how many dead Arab/Muslim children are an acceptable price to pay for the completion of your fly-paper stategy? One? One Hundred? One Million? All of them?

Posted by: kevin | Jun 29, 2005 4:29:37 PM

But why did we entice the terrorists there, and encourage so many Iraqis to become terrorists?


Oh, because the Iraqi people, by not sufficiently effectively rising up themselves against Saddam Hussein, were explictly begging the US to turn their country into a battleground with Islamic Fundamentalism. After all, one can clearly infer from the Iraqi people's failure to overthrow Saddam Hussein, that they value their homes and children less than the US values its ability to use said homes and children as the backdrop for a war which really had nothing to do with the Iraqis.

Their generous sacrifices will long be remembered.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 29, 2005 4:30:36 PM

The question of whether Iraq provided support or protection to Al-Qaida is more complex. Certainly they provided at least some minor support and the fact of meetings between Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaida leaders in well established.

Cites from someone who's not Stephen Hayes, Laura Mylroie or a fellow traveller would be much appreciated. I hear this all the time, and I have yet to see any evidence which stood up. (And let's just clear off that Al-Ansar nonsense right away -- that camp was in Kurdish controlled, US air-patrolled northern Iraq. Hussein couldn't do dick about that camp.)

As to whether Iraq provided substantial support to non-Al Qaida terrorists, that is incontrovertable.

Yep. Saddam Hussein was on the side of the PLO. So, incidentally, are the Saudis, but we keep kissing their asses. And, just as an open question to the room, what does the PLO-Israeli conflict have to do with us invading Iraq? By conflating those two things, you hand every nasty anti-Western leader in the Muslim world incontrovertible proof of all of their rhetoric about the US and Israel collaborating to attack Muslims.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 29, 2005 4:38:00 PM

I didn't expect agreement.

I believe the political need to recapture power trumps any reason.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 29, 2005 4:38:24 PM

I believe the political need to recapture power trumps any reason.

In which Robert Zimmerman perfectly captures the essence of the Republican leadership and confesses his own beliefs as well.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 29, 2005 4:45:58 PM

Yeah, we must be looking in the wrong places. The right place, of course, is in Congressman Hayes's ass.

Posted by: thejtrain | Jun 29, 2005 4:50:41 PM

"Iraq was invaded because of the perceived threat of WMD. Most Democrats believed he may have them. Certainly Western Europe thought so including the French and Germans. If anyone would like some quotes of Democrats, including those who had access to the most sensitive intelligence, who voted for the war on these grounds, I think I can rustle up some quotes for you. Saddam had many chances to show differently, but chose, instead to snub the UN inspectors at every turn.

So the argument goes like this: Everyone, and I mean everyone including the entire security council (see Res. 1441) believed Hussain had WMD. They have not been found. Now we, and the Iraqi people, are attacked constantly by terrorists who deliberately target children, police, politicians, and women. They do not fight by rules. They burn and hang bodies off bridges and decapitate live captured civilians and put recordings of these atrocities on the internet for all to see their crimes in an effort to thwart any efforts at democracy."

Dear God, I'm starting to agree with Robert Zimmerman. Hey, *I* thought we would found chemicals and/or biological -- but I was worried that the Bush Admin. would create more damage to our side in the WoT in their execution of the invasion than the threat imagined by a largely contained Saddam. Plus, I was worried about the very real concern of overstretch: there will be greater battles to fight in the short future which have greater risks to our ntl. sec. than Saddam.

That said, the questions were: in the absence of nukes, was the invasion justified? I say no, Robert Z. presumably says yes.

The next question is this: I'll grant you that terrorists are involved in the Iraqi insurgency. So is Iraq a better training ground for terrorists -- and thus a threat to American interests -- than before the invasion. And, given what we know concerning the lack of post-war planning and execution, is this Admin. competent enough to finish the job?

I agree with the criticism of Justus' "non-AQ" terrorist argument: if that were the standard, we should and could have gone after a number of countries (Iran springs immediately to mind, as does S. Arabia).

As far as the AQ/Saddam ties, c'mon. And I don't think Americans would have supported the war if the rallying cry was "convergence of interests" or other such gobbleygook.

Not to sound like a complete flip-flopper but the invasion was a mistake, particularly the ways the pre-war diplomacy and post-war occupation were conducted, but we have to stay because our absence would create a vaccum which is a greater threat to our national security than Saddam (in fact, it might be a good argument that no matter what we do the threat posed by the Iraqi insurgency is a greater threat than Saddam -- this is a training ground and a propaganda tool for the other side now).

Yeesh, this sucks. And, yeah, it makes me even angrier at the Bush Admin. to not think about these things and the ramifications before the war. They believed their own bullshit.

Posted by: Chris Rasmussen | Jun 29, 2005 5:12:42 PM

I think a better description than magnet is hatching ground. From a CIA report described here:
"They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980's and 1990's, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.

"The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda."

Posted by: cafl | Jun 29, 2005 6:33:54 PM

We have been attacked many times in the last 20 years by foreign terrorists. There certainly will be another attack on American soil. It's not a question of if, but when.
When that happens, will the left get angry or will they apologize for those who attacked us, blame America first and see it as political opportunity top regain lost power as they largely have with the last one?

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 29, 2005 7:31:53 PM

Here is a section from the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Scroll down to page 43 and start reading conclusion 93.

At no point have I claimed that Iraqi connections to terrorism were by itself sufficient justification for war. I also don't know of anyone who has advocated immediate attacks on any nation known to support terrorism. It was one reason, among many for the War in Iraq.

The point of my comment was merely that saying Iraq was not behind 9/11 does not remove it from being a possible target under a doctrine that claims any country that supports terrorism is a legitimate target for military action.

Note that just because a nation is a legitimate target does not mean it is desirable to wage a military assault at any given point in time. Many other factors weigh into that decision.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jun 29, 2005 7:32:45 PM

DJ - I don't really see anything there which tells me that there was any operational relationship, and the redactions don't help all that much.

There are "contacts", which don't mean much. I've had "contacts" with some very important people, but I wouldn't say there's any relationship, let alone a formal one. Then there's the "reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons". Well, given the redacted text, we have no idea how reliable those reports were, and since the conclusion says "reports" rather than treating the training as facts (as they do the "contacts"), I have to think that the reports were heavily caveated.

Last, I note that in the "safe haven" category, it's pretty hard to conclude that just because there are terrorists in Baghdad (and we already discussed the north), Hussein was harboring them. There are terrorists in Pakistan. Is Mussharaf harboring them? We're told over and over again that there are probably terrorists in the US. Are we harboring them?

The simple fact is that almost every rationale given for the invasion of Iraq was thin even as presented, and in hindsight, every rationale which wasn't thin as presented turned out to be absolutely false. So new justifications have been invented as we learn over and over again that the invasion was sold on false pretenses. And I do mean *sold*. Marketed, like a product.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 29, 2005 9:02:43 PM

But DJ, thank you for responding. I respect and appreciate that.

Posted by: paperwight | Jun 29, 2005 9:03:29 PM

"Will the left get angry or will they apologize for those who attacked us, blame America first and see it as political opportunity top regain lost power as they largely have with the last one?"

Robert, "we" didn't do that the first time, for cyring out loud -- most of us on the Left favored attacking Afganistan. Hell, many on "The Left" saw the point of the Iraqi invasion, but had concerns that the execution of the occupation by this Admin. would be worse for the WoT than international containment -- in the leadup to war, Yglesias, Marshall, Beinhart and others saw the point of rollback rather than containment. We just didn't think this current Admin. would do the job correctly. Remember, some influential neoconservatives believed we would be greeted with flowers, that oil revenue would fund the invasion, the occupation would be short and exiles would lead Iraq to a Jeffersonian democracy. And I do believe they did believe it... which means it is even more tragic than some sort of conspiracy theory involving Halliburton or the Carlyle Group or whatever the current cabal d'jour is.

But you're entitled to continuing to battle your false strawman if it makes you feel better. Otherwise, you can actually respond to arguments without blustering.

The question you're asking is who should we strike back against if it happens the first time. Yeah, let's say that North Korea supplied the nukes to terrorists we believe linked to Iran or Syria. Care to tell us where we're going to find the personnel to launch those attacks as well as stablizing Iraq?

Dave J.: Iran had a clearer nexus to terrorism than Saddam -- hell, Pollack has a pretty good time in his book The Gathering Storm describing the remarkable bungling of the Iraqi security and espionage services when they tried to promote terrorism. Besides, Saddam was a Stalinist first and an Islamist second: he was fearful of giving too much cooperation to those who weren't under his control (potential blowback on him if the US caught them, along with his egomania).

The democracy argument you raised previously is more persuasive to me in many ways. Although I think promoting democracy in this way is self-destructive hubris, it is clear that resentment toward despotic regimes in the Middle East -- many of whom are our current "allies" -- certainly breed the terrorists more than, say, Israel's policies or our own.

Posted by: Chris Rasmussen | Jun 29, 2005 9:14:45 PM

Certainly Iran has more ties to terrorism than Iraq ever did. I don't know of anyone who has claimed otherwise. For that matter, so does Saudi Arabia.

However, without an allied Iraq, military option against either of these nations would be impossible. Saying that Iran was worse so we should have invaded it first is pretty nonsensical.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jun 30, 2005 1:29:26 AM

Also: Don't miss Rep. Hayes' website, home of the most patriotic banner of all times. Superimposed on an American flag is a fighter jet, astronauts, cotton, and NASCAR. I broke into a spontaneous rendition of our national anthem as soon as the image loaded.

I suddenly felt nostalgia for innocent times when renditions could be sponaneous, they could be rousing, but they were never extraordinary.

Posted by: piotr | Jun 30, 2005 2:03:30 AM

Just a reminder for those who have forgotten who authorized this war, and why we invaded....

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. "[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ...
Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jun 30, 2005 10:48:13 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.