It looks like the New York Times is up to its old tricks…. with Democrats getting the treats. Less that 2 weeks until the election they run this story…
As recently as January 2004, a top Defense Department official misrepresented to Congress the view of American intelligence agencies about the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, according to a new report by a Senate Democrat.
The report said a classified document prepared by Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, not only asserted that there were ties between the Baghdad government and the terrorist network, but also did not reflect accurately the intelligence agencies’ assessment – even while claiming that it did.
In issuing the report, the senator, Carl M. Levin, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he would ask the panel to take “appropriate action” against Mr. Feith. Senator Levin said Mr. Feith had repeatedly described the ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda as far more significant and extensive than the intelligence agencies had.
The broad outlines of Mr. Feith’s efforts to promote the idea of such close links have been previously disclosed.
The view, a staple of the Bush administration’s public statements before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, has since been discredited by the Sept. 11 commission, which concluded that Iraq and Al Qaeda had “no close collaborative relationship.”
That the 9/11 commission report had “discredited” the idea that there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda came as a surprise to me since Jon Henke took the time to find all the references to their ties in the commission ‘s report.
Still, it could come down to a matter of opinion. The quote used to back up the claim however is not a matter of opinion.
Not remembering the commission report like the reporter, Douglas Jehl did, I wanted to put the quote into context. I did not recall the words, “no close collaborative relationship” in the report.
There was a reason for that. It’s NOT in the 9/11 commission report. The words “no close collaborative relationship” were not found by a search in either the full report or the executive summary.
Wanting to confirm my Acrobat Reader was not being funny and knowing the report was in HTML all over the web, I googled, “no close collaborative relationship” and not a single page was found.
I would love to know where the reporter got that quote. I can’t find it anywhere.
In summary, the reporter states a dubious claim to back up an allegation from one of the most notoriously partisan Democrats in Congress and bases it on a quote the 9/11 commission apparently never made. All 2 weeks before the election.
Unless Douglas Jehl (or someone else) can back-up this quote, I think it is fair to wonder if the ghost of Jayson Blair is still rattling his chains at the New York Times.
(a partial explanation in the update below the fold)
Notes: I did search the 9/11 report for “collaborative relationship” and found 1 hit about
Afghanistan the relation between Iraq and 9/11… A completely different animal. (Pg 65 of report) (see Update)
And I first read the quote at OTB
Lastly, perhaps the 9//11 commission said that in a context outside the final report. Even it that were the case, certainly google would have found it somewhere. It is not like the 9/11 commission did not receive amble press coverage.
Update: James Joyner in the comments say that my hit on page 61 was apparently the basis of the quote. Reading it twice I guess it might be a misquote from page 61. Either way, that was speaking about the ties between Iraq and 9/11 NOT Iraq and Al Qeada which the commission well documented. If James is correct not only was it misquoted , it was out of context.