Another day, another piece of information about how the Bush administration makes a cynical mockery of integrity and justice. (Oh, and while you're at it, contrast this with the fabricated information the right-wing cabal behind "Path to 9/11" used to justify their cinematic attack on Bill Clinton):
Gen. John M. Keane, the Army's vice chief of staff at the time, told the Wall Street Journal that Zarqawi represented "one of the best targets we ever had" [subscription required]. According to reporting by NBC News back in March 2004, the question of taking out Zarqawi was instead "debated to death" in the White House's National Security Council. Why? As NBC put it, "the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam."
That is to say, the administration, in the height of cynicism, preferred to keep Zarqawi -- the real terrorist, a man who would go on to take the lives of thousand of Iraqis and Jordanians and Americans in wanton acts of violence -- alive because his presence in Iraq bolstered the case for toppling Saddam.
What we didn't know until the Republican-controlled Senate Intel Committee delivered its report last week is that while Bush was dithering, Saddam was actually trying to off Zarqawi himself. According to page 109:
Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zaraqwi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.
As a haunting postscript, rather than acknowledge reality, administration figures took to the Sunday talk shows yesterday to continue to peddle the myth of what Colin Powell famously dubbed the "sinister nexus" between Saddam and Osama.Said Condi Rice: "There were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda."
Added Dick Cheney:
"Zarqawi was in Baghdad after we took Afghanistan and before we went into Iraq... You had the fact that Saddam Hussein, for example, provided payments to the families of suicide bombers of $25,000 on a regular basis. This was a state sponsor of terror. He had a relationship with terror groups. No question about it. Nobody denies that."