The staff of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks sharply contradicted one of President Bush’s central justifications for the Iraq war, reporting Wednesday that there did not appear to have been a “collaborative relationship” between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, reports the New York Times. The assertion came in staff reports that offer a chilling, richly detailed chronology of the Sept. 11 plot and rewrite much of the history of the attacks.
The chronology, based on the panel’s review of highly classified accounts of interrogations of captured Qaeda leaders, shows that Osama bin Laden was far more intimately involved in the planning of the attacks than previously known and approved the selection of each of the 19 hijackers. It also shows that the original plot called for attacks that would have been even larger and more deadly. As for Iraq, the commission’s staff said its investigation showed that the government of Mr. Hussein had rebuffed or ignored requests from Qaeda leaders for help in the 1990’s, a conclusion that directly contradicts a series of public statements President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made before and after last year’s invasion of Iraq in justifying the war.