Interrogations of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and documents seized after the 2003 US-led invasion confirmed that his regime had not been cooperating with al-Qaeda, the Washington Post reported on its Web site yesterday.
The report contradicted a strong argument for the invasion made by the administration of US President George W. Bush that Baghdad had a working relationship with al-Qaeda, the Afghanistan-based group led by Osama bin Laden blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US.
The Post reported that a newly released declassified Department of Defense report said information obtained after the fall of Saddam confirmed the prewar position of CIA and Pentagon intelligence that the Iraqi government had no substantial contacts with al-Qaeda.
This position was shored up by interrogations of Saddam and other top officials captured by the US-led coalition forces in Iraq, said the report, obtained by the Post.
The report said that the office of then-undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith -- one of the foremost advocates for invading Iraq after the 2001 attacks -- had deliberately ignored the CIA's position and characterized the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda as "mature" and "symbiotic" in a September 2002 briefing to the chief of staff of Vice President Dick Cheney.
The Feith briefing alleged that the two cooperated in 10 areas, including training, financing and logistics.
But the new report, the Post said, demonstrated that the US intelligence community had concluded at the time that there were "no conclusive signs" of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda and that "direct cooperation ... has not been established" between the two.
Prior to the war there was little public dispute inside the US over the Bush administration's linking Iraq and bin Laden's group.
But since the invasion, a number of intelligence officials have said that the White House and its backers ignored their intelligence and "cherry picked" information that supported their campaign to persuade the US of the need for war.
In a radio interview on Wednesday, Cheney insisted on a prewar link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, saying that the group was working in Iraq "before we even arrived on the scene."
"As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq," Cheney told a conservative radio talk-show host.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around