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Helen Thomas’s insistence that the invasion of Iraq was undertaken on false pretenses, in the absence of a threat, and that recent British and American inquiries have proved this, encapsulates the Kerry-Edwards campaign’s spin on the war. It’s worth a moment, therefore, to recall the following rationales for ousting Saddam Hussein’s regime which have emerged recently — since these seem somehow to have sailed below the radar of the likes of Helen Thomas:
1) Although there’s no evidence that Saddam Hussein had a working relationship with Osama bin Ladin, let alone command and control over the events of 9/11, it’s now certain that senior Iraqi officials met intermittently with al Qaeda operatives during the 1990s.
2) Russian president Vladimir Putin, a diehard opponent of the invasion of Iraq, has conceded that shortly after 9/11 he advised President Bush that “official organs of Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations.” Given Russia’s pre-war dealings with Iraq, Putin was in a distinct position to be aware of such goings on.
3) On the subject of the famous sixteen words uttered by President Bush during his 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Both the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq’s WMDs and Britain’s Butler report have concluded that Saddam did in fact seek to acquire uranium from Niger in 1999. Joe Wilson, the disgruntled former diplomat who disputed the sixteen words and became the darling of the Bush Lied! brigades, has now been thoroughly discredited — yet John Kerry still has not disowned him.
To sum up: President Bush knew of meetings between al Qaeda and Iraqi officials; he had been warned by a credible source that Saddam was planning terrorist strikes against the United States; he knew that Saddam had recently sought to acquire uranium.
Given the intelligence Bush was provided in the months after September 11th 2001, and given Saddam’s refusal to cooperate unconditionally with United Nations weapons inspectors — in violation of the cease fire agreement which kept him in power after the first Gulf War — Bush’s decision to launch a pre-emptive war against Iraq becomes readily justifiable. Indeed, if President Bush hadn’t gone to war, knowing what he knew, he ought to have been impeached.
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