Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bush Again Ties Iraq To 9/11

From Dana Milbank's column this morning:

President Bush is at odds with the American public and a restive congressional majority over the Iraq war, and even some Republicans talk about imposing new requirements that could trigger a troop withdrawal.

It's time to play the Qaeda card.

In a speech about Iraq yesterday morning at the Willard Hotel, the president mentioned Osama bin Laden's group -- 27 times. "For America, the decision we face in Iraq is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it's whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11," Bush told a group of construction contractors.

Never mind all that talk about sectarian strife and civil war in Iraq. "The primary reason for the high level of violence is this: Al-Qaeda has ratcheted up its campaign of high-profile attacks," Bush disclosed.

The man who four years ago admitted "no evidence" of an Iraqi role in the Sept. 11 attacks now finds solid evidence of a role in Iraq by the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"I don't need to remind you who al-Qaeda is," Bush reminded. "Al-Qaeda is the group that plot and planned and trained killers to come and kill people on our soil. The same bunch that is causing havoc in Iraq were the ones who came and murdered our citizens."

This new line of argument would seem to present some difficulty for the White House, and not only because, as the Pentagon inspector general reported last month, al-Qaeda had no ties to Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003. More to the point: If the problem in Iraq isn't sectarian strife, then why is the U.S. military building walls to separate Sunni enclaves from Shiite neighborhoods?

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