The report of the the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission) on why and how America was drawn into a war in Iraq compels some critical rethinking. This is no ordinary commission. When it was named, the almost universal feeling was that the commission members were people of intelligence and integrity, who would listen, learn and reach reasoned conclusions based on firm facts. They were not political hacks or tools of special interests. Precisely for that reason, its recent statement that there was no connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the September catastrophe raises disturbingly profound questions about our involvement in Iraq and about the true purposes of the Bush-Cheney administration.
The rationale for pre-emptive action against Iraq was double. First, Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and second, Saddam was cooperating with bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. There was, indeed, good reason to believe that Saddam did have such biological and chemical weapons because we gave them to him during his war against Iran. That happened in Ronald Reagan’s administration. But after the Gulf War, when Hussein was obliged to get rid of such weapons, he did. Repeated investigations by competent and authorized people and organizations have confirmed this.
Now the second reason for the war, the tie between Saddam and bin Laden, is also questioned — as a result of the commission’s digging in depth to find the basis for the claim. The unraveling of the mystery is truly intriguing. As follows:
There was a charge, accepted and repeated by Cheney, that there was a meeting in Prague between top hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence officials. The commission did its homework and concluded that no such meeting ever took place. At the alleged time of the meeting, Atta was photographed (by surveillance cameras) withdrawing $8,000 from a Virginia bank. He also made numerous cell-phone calls from the United States when he was supposed to have been in Prague.
So, who concocted the original story and why? We do not know — as yet. But one wonders whether someone with an ulterior motive may not have arranged the little ploy to tie in Saddam with bin Laden to justify the war.
Comes the query: If the two reasons for making a war on Iraq are invalid, what was (is) the real reason? Some suggest that the real motive was supplied by Paul Wolfowitz, who championed the war as necessary and desirable to bring democracy to the Near East — starting with Iraq. If that were the real reason, there would have been no need to invent stories about WMD and an alliance between Ssaddam and bin Laden. Wolfowitz’s fantasy was more a rationale after the fact than a reason. If Wolfowitz really wants Bush to be the great liberator of the oppressed, the right target should have been China, where one-quarter of the earth’s population suffers under a dictatorship over the proletariat and peasantry. So, what is the real Bush-Cheney reason for the pre-emptive attack on Iraq? Some say, to win the next election. Others say, for the petroleum-minded Bush and Cheney, the real reason is control of Iraq’s rich oil resources. As one wit put it, in a play on the old saying “The early bird gets the worm”: “The oily birds set the terms….”