In today’s New York Times, Bill Safire does some real reporting on the Saddam-al Qaeda link:
Well armed and financed by both Iraq and Iran, this [Kurdish] affiliate of Al Qaeda has since provided a haven for bin Laden followers exfiltrating from Afghanistan. They tried to assassinate an articulate Kurdish leader, Barham Salih, killing several bodyguards, but their target escaped and several killers were captured. Our National Security Council members did not learn about this bloody engagement, one of them told me a week afterward, until they read about it in The Times.
The Kurds induced the captives and some defectors to reveal that the Ansar cell of Al Qaeda had begun producing poisonous chemicals for export. One product was reported here to be a cyanide cream being smuggled through Turkey. The operation was set up by a man with a limp, the informants said, a key bin Laden lieutenant, Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. ( I misspelled that name a few weeks ago.)
The C.I.A. continued to pooh-pooh any connection between Ansar and Saddam. But reporter Jeff Goldberg of The New Yorker and more recently C. J. Chivers of The Times went into Iraq and interviewed some of the captured terrorists. Such reporting eroded the “no clear link” line put out by opponents of action against Saddam.
Wonder if this will make tomorrow’s State of the Union address?