I’ve been published! My local

I’ve been published! My local paper has published a letter I wrote to them. It was rebutting the following letter:

To the Editor,

I sometimes wonder if headline writers bother to read the stories they are headlining. The recent headline about the 9/11 commission report is a case in point. The headline claimed that the report contradicted the claims of the Bush administration.

The headline is contradicted by the facts, by the report itself and by the chairmen of the commission. The fact is that the Bush administration never claimed that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11. The administration claimed that there was a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, not necessarily 911. The report confirmed that there was a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida and that there was no credible evidence of a connection between Iraq and 9/11, which is precisely what the Bush administration had been saying from the beginning.

Finally, both chairmen of the commission (one a democrat, the other a Republican) stated that they were surprised at the media reaction to the report because the report did not refute claims by the Bush administration, despite headlines to the contrary.

Of course, this is obviously wrong. So I sent this to the paper:

To the Editor:

In Spec Bower’s June 23 Forum letter, he claimed that a recent Valley News headline, about the 9/11 commission’s conclusion that there was no substantive link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime, was contradicted by the facts of the case. On the contrary: it is Mr. Bowers’ letter that is contradicted by those facts.

Mr. Bowers wrote that President Bush never claimed that there was a connection between Hussein’s regime and the events of 9/11. But President Bush did claim this. In his letter to Congress announcing the war, on March 19, 2003, Bush wrote that invading Iraq, “is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. ”

The administration’s claims of a link between Hussein’s regime and al-Qaeda were also contradicted by the commission, contrary to Mr. Bowers’ assertations. The commission said that there was no “collaborative relationship” between the two groups. But even the commission overestimated the relationship. John Lehman, a Republican member of the commission, claimed that an Iraqi intelligence agent was employed by al-Qaeda in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Lehman apparently mixed up the names of two entirely different people. The al-Qaeda employee in Kuala Lumpur is named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi. The Iraqi intelligence agent was named Lt. Col. Hikmat Shakir Ahmad. These are two entirely different people.

Most of all, President Bush’s continuing insistence on the existence of a link between these two groups reeks of hypocrisy. After the 9/11 commission released its report, Bush claimed that Abu Masab al-Zarqawi was the best evidence of a link between al-Qaeda and the Hussein regime. But Zarqawi, before the invasion, operated in the Kurdish no-fly zone, which was controlled by the U.S., not by Saddam. This begs the question of why we didn’t assassinate him. According to NBC News, the answer is that Bush thought that killing Zarqawi would undermine his case for war. Bush turned down Pentagon plans to assassinate Zarqawi on several occasions in 2002. The full story is located at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4431601/.

Simply put, there is no evidence of a substantial relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime, let alone that Hussein assisted in the 9/11 attacks. The Valley News covered the 9/11 commission’s report just as it should have.

This is the version that was printed:

To the Editor:

Spec Bower’s June 23 letter claimed that a recent Valley News headline about the 9/11 commission’s finding that there was no substantive link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime was contradicted by the facts of the case. It is Mr. Bowers’ letter that is contradicted by those facts.

Mr. Bowers wrote that President Bush never claimed a connection between Saddam and 9/11. But in his letter to Congress announcing the war, on March 19, 2003, Bush wrote that invading Iraq, “is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. ”

Contrary to Mr. Bowers’ assertions, the commission staff report said that there was no “collaborative relationship” between the two groups. But even the that preliminary report overestimated the relationship. John Lehman, a Republican member of the commission, claimed that an Iraqi intelligence agent was employed by al-Qaeda in Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Lehman apparently mixed up the names of two different people. The al-Qaeda employee in Kuala Lumpur is named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi. The Iraqi intelligence agent was named Lt. Col. Hikmat Shakir Ahmad. Bush’s continuing insistence that a link exists between these two groups reeks of hypocrisy. After the 9/11 commission released its report, Bush claimed that Abu Masab al-Zarqawi was the best evidence of a link between al-Qaeda and the Hussein regime. But Zarqawi, before the invasion, operated in the Kurdish no-fly zone, which was controlled by the United States, not by Saddam. This begs the question of why we didn’t assassinate him. According to NBC News, Bush thought that killing Zarqawi would undermine his case for war. Bush turned down Pentagon plans to assassinate Zarqawi on several occasions in 2002. The full story is located at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4431601/.

Simply put, there is no evidence of a substantial relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime, let alone that Hussein assisted in the 9/11 attacks. The Valley News covered the 9/11 commission’s report just as it should have.

This changed what I said. Lehman lied about Kuala Lumpur during a Sunday talk show, not in the report. I never said that his mention of it was in the report. But overall, the message has gotten through.

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