On MSBNC, Fund falsely suggested British, French, and German "intelligence agencies all agree[d]" that "Saddam Hussein was involved with 9-11"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On MSNBC's Hardball, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund falsely suggested that "the British, the French, the German, and the American intelligence agencies all agree[d]" that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; in fact, according to various news reports, British, French, and German intelligence all agreed that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

On the September 8 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund falsely suggested that "the British, the French, the German, and the American intelligence agencies all agree[d]" that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In fact, according to various news reports, British, French, and German intelligence all agreed before the United States took military action against Iraq that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, let alone Iraq and the 9-11 attacks.

Asked by host Chris Matthews whether he "believe[s] Saddam Hussein was involved with 9-11," Fund referred to two of the five sections of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Phase II report on its investigation into pre-war Iraq intelligence, which were released September 9, stating: "We had a worldwide failure of intelligence. One of the things we're going to have to use this report, is figure out how in the world, in the future, if the British, the French, the German, and the American intelligence agencies all agree on something that turns out not to be the case, how do we avoid making decisions on that basis?"

In fact, the German, French, and British intelligence agencies all stated that they saw no evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda well before President Bush announced "the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq" on March 19, 2003:

  • On September 10, 2002, the French news agency Agence France Presse reported that Heinz Fromm, president of Germany's domestic intelligence agency in charge of collecting information on "Islamism," "said there was no proof that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had any link to al-Qaeda."
  • On October 16, 2002, the BBC reported that "French President Jacques Chirac has said he knows of no relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda."
  • On February 5, 2003, the BBC reported that "[t]here are no current links between the Iraqi regime and the al-Qaeda network, according to an official British intelligence report seen by BBC News ... [and] any fledgling relationship [in the past] foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies."

From the September 8 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: And by the way, we got a new poll out to that effect. Even now, after all this old news, as it's called, John Fund, 43 percent of the people, according to a new CNN poll, say they believe that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9-11. Do you think he was?

FUND: We had a worldwide failure of intelligence. One of the things we're going to have to use this report, is figure out how in the world, in the future, if the British, the French, the German, and the American intelligence agencies all agree on something that turns out not to be the case, how do we avoid making decisions on that basis?

But this report, Chris, does look backwards. It's important that we know what happened. But there's still the question, what do we do now? Next week, the House Intelligence Committees is going to issue a report on Al Qaeda, its worldwide network, and what would happen if we pull out of Iraq and Iraq becomes a staging area for Al Qaeda.

So while we have to look backward, I think we also have to look forward, because we know we don't want to repeat that mistake -- it doesn't tell what we do now though.

MATTHEWS: Do we want to trust the Iraqi National Congress in the future, having been burnt this badly? John?

FUND: We relied on sources that we shouldn't have. But I have to tell you, the Iraqi National Congress is no longer a player in Iraq. We have to deal with the players that are there now. So, this report is valuable. It doesn't tell us where we go from here.

JONATHAN ALTER (Newsweek senior editor and columnist): But you know, John, you're acting as if this was just all an innocent mistake back in 2003. It wasn't an innocent mistake.

FUND: No, I'm saying it was a comprehensive mistake.

ALTER: No, it was -- John, can I? Can I?

FUND: Because if you read the British, the French, and the German intelligence reports, they said the same thing.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
John Fund
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Prewar Intelligence/WMD
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