On al Qaeda and Iraq

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I'm late getting to this, but I want to link to former Defense Department official Doug Feith's website and his comments on an April 6 Washington Post story. The issue is whether there were ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda; the charge has been made that Feith overstated their relationship. I think Feith refutes that here, and there are other refutations in Paul Mirengoff's comments and Thomas Joscelyn's article in the Weekly Standard. They all make reference to George Tenet's Oct. 7, 2002, letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham on the issue. Joscelyn lays out the evidence of a Saddam-al Qaeda relationships.

"Saddam's Terror Training Camps & Long-Standing Relationship With Ayman al-Zawahiri.

1. A 1992 IIS Document lists Osama bin Laden as an "asset."

2. A 1997 IIS document lists a number of meetings between Iraq, bin Laden, and other al Qaeda associates.

3. A 1998 IIS document reveals that a representative of bin Laden visited Baghdad in March 1998 to meet with Saddam's regime.

4. Numerous IIS documents demonstrate that Saddam had made plans for a terrorist-style insurgency and coordinated the influx of foreign terrorists into Iraq." Critics of the Bush administration have sometimes claimed there was no relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda–which is simply wrong–or have fallen back on the 9/11 Commission's conclusion that there was no evidence of operational cooperation between them with regard to the September 11 attacks, which seems to be true enough as far as it goes. However, I think that any responsible government official had a duty to ascertain what that relationship was and to search hard for evidence of it. Put yourself back in 2002 for a minute. Then we knew that al Qaeda would do anything to wreak destruction on us, and we knew that Saddam Hussein had once had chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs and had failed to account for them. Worst case scenario: Saddam provides nukes to al Qaeda, and thousands of Americans die.

In those circumstances, I think it would have been criminal for an official like Feith to have ignored such evidence or to have allowed people in the intelligence community to shove it under the rug.

Here are two more posts on the subject from Andrew McCarthy on National Review Online.

Keep in mind one other thing: the anthrax attacks of September 2001. In his blog on the New Republic website, Martin Peretz links to this report on the anthrax attacks. It's pretty technical–and pretty scary. As Peretz says, "Read this in the morning. If you read it at night, you won't sleep." It raises the possibility that the anthrax was supplied to the attackers by the government of Iraq. I've written about this before. The anthrax attacks came just days after September 11. The FBI still doesn't have the faintest idea who launched the anthrax attacks. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. We don't have clear evidence that Saddam Hussein was behind September 11 or the anthrax attacks. But we don't have clear evidence that he wasn't.

What's in a Name

Earlier this week I received the following memo from Bob Grover, U.S. News's ace copy desk chief.

"Dear folks–When Bill Clinton was in the White House, his wife's expressed preference for her name was Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Her people now say "We really have no preference on the name; people tend to use what they want, often to save space. Your call."

So I'm inclined to make the standard first reference Hillary Clinton, using Rodham only in formal or special contexts.

I'd appreciate your views.

(Meanwhile, Senator Clinton continues to prefer "Mrs." to "Ms." whenever an honorific is called for.)

Cheers,

Bob" In response to a question from me, he added:

"Her Senate website seems to prefer Rodham, while the campaign site drops it. (The quote I mentioned came from a Clinton Senate staffer.)

I've omitted the name of the staffer, since this seems to have been off the record, but I can assure you that that person is authorized to speak for Clinton." My policy is to call people what they want to be called. I think that's simply good manners. People should have control over their own names. I can think of two examples of violations of this rule. One was in the 1988 presidential campaign, when CBS's Dan Rather referred to the Republican vice presidential nominee as "J. Danforth Quayle" instead of "Dan Quayle." Rather seemed to be implying that Quayle was some sort of fancy rich kid, which he wasn't. At the suggestion of my then boss, Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield, I investigated what Quayle's income was from a family trust, which was often described in the press as having a principal of $600 million. It turned out that there were many beneficiaries of the trust and that Quayle's income from it was around $10,000 a year–a nice bit of extra change, but not life-transforming vast wealth. Anyway, I remember the liberal columnist Mark Shields criticizing Rather for his usage and as I recall, Rather dropped the "J." and the "forth" fairly soon after.

Another example: the insistence of many Republican politicians of referring to "the Democrat Party." Democrats want the adjective to be "Democratic," and it's their party. It's childish and petty to refer to it any other way. I believe I heard George W. Bush the other day start saying "the Democrat Party" and then correcting himself and saying "Democratic." Other Republicans should, too. If Jimmy Carter wants to be known as Jimmy, that's his choice; ditto for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Use the name the person uses.

In any case, I now feel free to refer to "Hillary Clinton." I have been trying for years in my writing and on television to refer to her as "Hillary Rodham Clinton," because that was my understanding of her preference. Now I feel free to skip the "Rodham." Every word counts: A U.S. News column is only about 740 words, and an appearance on Fox News Channel lasts only a few minutes. Now I can get another word in.

Guns on Campus

Two very good opinion articles arguing that adults with concealed weapons permits should be allowed to carry them on campus:

Dave Kopel in the Wall Street Journal and Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), in the New York Daily News. Also, here's an article that Glenn links to on Instapundit, suggesting that people should be able to carry Tasers as a defensive weapon. Declaring university campuses gun-free zones doesn't stop criminals from carrying guns there, any more than Takoma Park, Md.'s declaration that it is a nuclear-free zone prevents our enemies from exploding nuclear weapons there.