The pit bull with lipstick gave a rousing send-off to U.S. soldiers headed for Iraq: You are going to “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.” Guess what? The establishment reacted with horror! The Washington Post complained the governor did not understand that any idea Saddam Hussein had been involved in 9/11 was quite discredited, while the McCain camp rushed to explain she was speaking about al Qaeda in Iraq, rather than Saddam.
Whatever Sarah Palin meant, Saddam did rejoice at the 9/11 attacks. He asserted on September 12, “The United States reaps the thorns that its rulers have planted in the world.” We might make more of that, and Saddam’s subsequent gloating, but the “entrenched interests” Palin challenged so powerfully at the Republican National Convention also exist when it comes to understanding terrorism, particularly the 9/11 attacks. At stake are careers, and the CIA and others past and present who have dealt with terrorism are heavily invested in absolving Iraq for 9/11. If Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks, it means they all made a tremendous blunder during the previous eight years back to 1993 and the first assault on the World Trade Center. That is, the Clinton administration more broadly; along with the Republicans who led Congress then, and subsequently even the Bush White House which failed to question the Clinton-era explanation of terrorism with any meaningful vigor — that it was all basically the product of stateless, messianic Islamic networks.