Attack on Iraq based
on misinformation


The Sept. 11 commission has found "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein collaborated with al-Qaida in the 2001 attacks.

EVIDENCE is becoming conclusive that the underpinnings of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq were false. The staff of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks reports finding "no credible evidence" that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida terrorists collaborated in the attacks. With each passing day, it has become clear that Saddam did not possess the vast amount of weapons of mass destruction that the United States claimed were threats to the world. Those were the two main justifications for U.S. military action, and they were based on misinformation.

The commission's report does not mean U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq. Even U.N. Security Council members who opposed U.S. military action in Iraq agree such a retreat would be irresponsible. But it also does not mean the Bush administration should carry on with the charade that the wars against terrorism and the Saddam regime were and are one and the same.

Nor does it mean that President Bush deliberately misled the American people from the outset. A day after the al-Qaida attacks, he asked Richard Clarke, then his counterterrorism chief, to "see if Saddam did this," according to Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies," clearly wanting an affirmative answer. Clarke said he was "taken aback, incredulous," but agreed to the president's order that he look for "any shred" of evidence. He found none.

Bush received the answer he wanted from a group of neoconservatives who were bent on "regime change" in Iraq, most prominently Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense; Richard Perle, Pentagon policy advisor until his resignation in February; and William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, after serving as chief of staff to former Vice President Dan Quayle. They relied on information provided by Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, who has been discredited.

American journalists also were led astray by Chalabi and other Iraqi defectors and exiles. In an extraordinary 1,200-word correction on May 26, published the next day in the Star-Bulletin, the New York Times confessed to "coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been," amounting to a "pattern of misinformation."

The Bush administration has refused to acknowledge as much, instead portraying the military action in Iraq as being a part of the "war against terrorism." As recently as last Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke of Iraq's "long-established ties" with al-Qaida. Even after the commission released its report, Bush continued to insist there was "a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaida. Gov. Lingle has joined the chorus, declaring after her visit to Iraq, "If we are not going to fight terrorism there, we are going to fight it here at home."

The administration has cited FBI reports that 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta met with an Iraq intelligence officer in Prague on April 9, 2001. The commission staff reported, "Based on the evidence available -- including investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting -- we do not believe that such a meeting occurred."

The staff also found that the government of Sudan, Osama bin Laden's haven from 1991-96, "arranged for contacts" between al-Qaida and Iraq, but the contacts did not result in any cooperation. Iraq apparently rejected bin Laden's request to provide space for training camps and help al-Qaida acquire weapons, according to the commission staff. "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States."


Monk seal’s rescue
an act of civilization


Veterinarians removed a 5-inch fishhook from the esophagus of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal found injured on Kauai.

THE Hawaiian monk seal that went under the surgeon's knife after being rescued on the shores of Kauai doesn't have to be told what it's like to be an endangered species. Veterinarians took more than five hours to remove a large fishhook from his esophagus, an operation that took more than 200 stitches to close. If monk seals could talk, this one would thank his doctors profusely.

To ensure complete healing, the vets will be closely observing for the next two weeks the monk seal they call TT-40, the serial number from his National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration dog tag. (Really, can't the good doctors come up with a better name for the critter, like Ka Hui, Hawaiian for Flipper?)

If the 500-pound seal were able to express his gratitude, the doctors undoubtedly would respond that, ah shucks, what they did was to be expected. And they would be right. Guardianship, compassion and tender care of our fellow mammals, especially those who are threatened or endangered, are among the marks of a civilized society.

We join the rest of the community in wishing TT-40, whatever his real name might be, a speedy and total recovery. And please be more careful. It's an ocean out there.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
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Dennis Francis, Publisher

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