Jewish World Review June 23, 2004 / 4 Tamuz 5764

Dan Abrams

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Parsing words confuse 9/11 report statements: Are politicians starting to sound like lawyers? | Today, it seems that more and more politicians at even the highest level are sinking to the ultimate low: talking like lawyers.

Reminiscent of President Clinton twisting and agonizing over the word "is," the Bush administration is now in a silly, pedantic battle over the words from the 9/11 commission staff report. The commission found that there's "no credible evidence Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11."

Well, it now seems everyone including the administration now agrees with that.

The report also concluded that despite overtures from bin Laden to Saddam, and at least one meeting between a senior Iraqi intelligence officer and bin Laden, none of it appears "to have resulted in a collaborative relationship."

Taking a page from Clinton's book of ambiguity, the administration now says this supports their repeated claims of "long established ties" and "numerous contacts and relationships between Saddam and al Qaeda."

That sort of word mongering is just pure gunmanship. Now skittish commissioners who seem stunned by the political fallout are also parsing words in a way they successfully avoided in their report. Chairman Thomas Kean saying there were "contacts" and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton saying there were "relationships." But that's not the question. So they had a few failed meetings. How did that translate into long established ties?

As I said before, the U.S. has had far closer ties with Saddam than al Qaeda ever did. The question is simple: Were they working together?

Everyone now finally seems to concede that there's no evidence Saddam was behind 9/11. But were they working together on other terror projects? The 9/11 commission is saying they have not seen any evidence of that.

The administration is only undermining its own credibility. They do not and did not need this phantom connection to justify the war. There was evidence to believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, as even President Clinton has said. If this administration believes the commission's report is wrong, let them argue that. There's new evidence, as some have claimed, fine, let's see it. Let them investigate it.

However, only a lawyer or someone who thinks like one could even argue that the report supports the idea that there were long established ties between Saddam and al Qaeda.

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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors “The Abrams Report,” Monday through Friday from 9-10 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today” and “Dateline NBC.” To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.



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