They looked through more than 600,000 of the regime’s documents and have found nothing.

I repeat…they have found absolutely no evidence whatsoever of operational ties to al Qaeda.

From McClatchy:

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam’s regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report. […]

As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq. “The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims,” he said.

If we shouldn’t have been there in the first place, it’s hard to continue to make the case that we need to stay there, build bases, etc. And sure, getting rid of tyrants is nice and all, and it makes for a good explanation AFTER the fact, but street-by-street occupation is simply not an acceptable military strategy for an asymmetrical war. And anybody who tells you otherwise has obviously not been paying attention the past 5 years.

Also, let’s also be realistic about expectations. We’re not going to get rid of al Qaeda. It simply isn’t going to happen. In fact, this dumb Neo-Con strategy has lured more al Qaeda into the region and they’ve gotten bigger as a result. Think we may want to try the opposite and see what happens? That’s why I continue to say that we need to get out as soon as we can and as safely as we can. Because only then we can get down to the business of killing al Qaeda when they least expect it, instead of giving them American targets day in and day out.

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