Thursday, September 29, 2005

Terrorism, Al Qaeda, and 9/11

I have got to stop defending prominent bloggers and columnists. They certainly don't need my help. But I need to write something tonight, and this really bugged me.

A certain columnist recently wrote the following:

Vold's view is 180 degrees different from the protesters'. For years, he says, America took a passive approach to extremist threats. We learned the hard way that this emboldened terrorists and ultimately led to Sept. 11. Abandoning our mission in Iraq now, he says, would be both ill-advised and dangerous.

Today, a letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star Tribune makes an accusation of a "mistruth."

The next time _________ or any other columnist implicitly or explicitly describes a link between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Iraq, please add a footnote indicating such a link has been invalidated by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

Mistruths do not make for a convincing column.

Did I miss something? The real "mistruth" is the allegation that the column made such a link. The point was not that Saddam Hussein was involved with the terrorist attacks on 9/11, but that showing weakness in our foreign policy invites such attacks. We learned from 9/11 that if you wait until there is a smoking gun, it is too late. We can apply that lesson to Iraq without saying that Iraq was involved in that particular act of terrorism.

Part of the problem is that people use the terms 9/11, Al Qaeda, and terrorism interchangeably. That is why you see poll data that indicate people believe that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. It is not that people are dumb, it is that they and the pollsters are sloppy with terminology.

For the record, it is not entirely clear that all 19 hijackers knew the plan on 9/11. It is very doubtful that the planners would share this highly sensitive information with Saddam. But that does not mean he has no link to terrorism. Or that would-be terrorists in other parts of the world are not watching our mission in Iraq to see whether the insurgents can break our resolve.
For once and for all, here are the links:

Saddam most likely had no knowledge or responsibility for 9/11.

There is some evidence of links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

There is undisputed evidence that Saddam supported terrorism, from harboring Abu Nidal to paying the families of suicide killers in Israel.


Blogger Derek Jensen said...

I agree with your last three sentences

September 30, 2005 1:11 PM  

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