There is an old Russian joke, dating back to the Soviet Union’s heyday when the two government newspapers were called Izvestia and Pravda. Izvestia means “news,” and Pravda means “truth,” leading to the joke, “There’s no news in the Truth, and no truth in the News.” At times I look at the major media here in the United States, and I wonder if we could say the same thing.
On June 16th, the 9-11 Commission held meetings and, as the New York Times put it, “Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie“. Here is a quote from that Times article: “However, the commission said in a staff report, ‘We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.’” Oddly, the quoted phrase shown in the Times does not appear in any of the pdf files released by the 9-11 Commission on June 16th. The Times article says in its first paragraph, “[T]here did not appear to have been a ‘collaborative relationship’ between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.” It is again interesting that the phrase “collaborative relationship” does not appear in a search of the four pdf files released on Wednesday.
But here is a quote from another New York Times article: “Both indictments offer new information about Mr. Bin Laden’s operations, including one deal he is said to have struck with Iraq to cooperate in the development of weapons in return for Mr. Bin Laden’s agreeing not to work against that country. No details were given about whether the alleged deal with Iraq led to the development of actual weapons for Mr. Bin Laden’s group, which is called Al-Qaeda.” This article was published on November 5, 1998, and it certainly reads as a “collaborative relationship” to me.
Here is what former Illinois governor and 9-11 commissioner James Thompson said the next day on CNN with Soledad O’Brien:
In fact, the report says that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are correct. It’s a little mystifying to me why some elements of the press have tried to stir this up as a big controversy and a big point of contradiction because there is none. We said there’s no evidence to support the notion that Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein collaborated together to produce 9/11. President Bush said that weeks ago. He said it again yesterday. The vice president said it again yesterday. I said it again yesterday in television interviews. What we did I say was there were contacts between Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein, and the president has said there were contacts. The vice president has said there were contacts. They may be in possession of information about contacts beyond those that we found, I don’t know. That wasn’t any of our business. Our business was 9/11. So there is no controversy; there’s no contradiction, and this is not an issue.
But it is an issue, because the liberal media has spun the story to convey information quite different from the commission’s actual findings. Vice President Cheney met on CNBC’s “Capitol Report” show with Alan Murray and Gloria Borger. The following is a transcript of this show:
BORGER: But obviously first the news of the week is the 9-11 Commission report. And as you know, the report found, quote, “No credible evidence that al-Qaida collaborated with Iraq or Saddam Hussein.” Do you disagree with its findings?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I disagree with the way their findings have been portrayed. This has been enormous confusion over the Iraq-al-Qaida connection, Gloria. First of all, on the question of whether or not there was any kind of a relationship, there clearly was a relationship. It’s been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early ’90s.
It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials. It involves a senior official, a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service going to the Sudan before bin Laden ever went to Afghanistan to train them in bomb-making, helping teach them how to forge documents. Mr. Zarqawi, who’s in Baghdad today, is an al-Qaida associate who took refuge in Baghdad, found sanctuary and safe harbor there before we ever launched into Iraq. There’s a Mr. Yasin, who was a World Trade Center bomber in ’93, who fled to Iraq after that and we found since when we got into Baghdad, documents showing that he was put on the payroll and given housing by Saddam Hussein after the ’93 attack; in other words, provided safe harbor and sanctuary. There’s clearly been a relationship.
But after a clear answer like that, Gloria Borger continued to harangue the Vice-President about this issue. Clearly, some liberal leftists in the media are creating a political mountain out of a non-existent molehill. Why are they doing this? Quite simply, because they disagree with the President’s agenda.
In a world where the enemies of this nation have cut off the heads of American noncombatants simply because they are Americans, we need to be united in our response to terrorist murderers. Instead the liberal press portrays to the world, and to al-Qaeda, a weak and divided America. The media will fill up the papers and airwaves with outrage over the mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib Prison for months, but when truly horrific events such as the September 11 attacks and the decapitation of Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg occur, they will hold off publishing the evidence. Why? Because such information would put steel in the backbone of Americans, and we would unite behind our President as he directs the war against this evil. And the press can’t allow that to happen.