Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Of Weasels and Hedges

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The 9/11 Commission says ‘no dice’ to the Administration, or so the media says.  I’ll admit to paying little attention to the commission after it turned into a circus a few months back.  The he said/she said nonsense between Dick Clarke and Condi Rice was bad enough, but when Jamie Gorelick refused to resign over a blatant conflict of interest (far beyond the ‘appearance’ liberals usually cite when they want someone out) the whole thing became a footnote as far as I was concerned.

But it’s back in the news today, and I took the trouble to read the actual document which is primarily a twelve page history of Bin Laden’s activities for the last quarter century or so.  Iraq is mentioned only ten times in those pages, and Saddam Hussein indirectly but twice.  And the source paragraph itself is a study in hedging:

Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein’s secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States. [emphasis mine]

Explored, possible, reportedly (twice), is said, apparently, reports, appear, adamantly (as in people whose word is really, really good), credible.

So, quite a few hedging weasel words for such a short paragraph.  (And nine out of the ten references to Iraq and both indirect refererences to Saddam appear in this text so this is pretty much it.) The 9/11 Commission is sure covering itself – anything new that comes up can be explained away as can any differing interpretation of the evidence.  Instapundit wonders about a comparison with this book, which I haven’t read, but I wonder about it too.

One wonders if this statement by the Commission isn’t a trial balloon to test reception of the full report due out July 26th (just in time for the DNC convention).  I’ll be interested to see if that report hedges as much as this one does, but I won’t expect any weasel words out of the media or the Fleet Center that week.


Instapundit posts in a similar vein.

Written by martinipundit

June 16, 2004 at 12:03 pm

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