Two degrees of separation:
That's the Weekly Standard
's new test to determine if you have a "link" with al Qaeda (it's also Cheney's criteria
). From Bill Kristol's essay, Gunsmoke
Late last week, the Defense Department released an analysis of 600,000 documents captured in Iraq prepared by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded think tank. Here's the attention-grabbing sentence from the report's executive summary: "This study found no 'smoking gun' (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda."
But here's the truth. The executive summary of the report is extraordinarily misleading. The full report, released Thursday night, states, for example, on page 42: "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives." In fact, as Stephen F. Hayes reports in this issue, the study outlines a startling range of connections between Saddam and various organizations associated with al Qaeda and other terror groups.
According to Kristol, if Saddam had a connection
to an outfit that had a connection
to al Qaeda, then Saddam has a connection to al Qaeda. By that logic, just about everybody in the Middle East has a connection to al Qaeda, which makes it easy to advocate war against Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, et al.
Actually, Kristol allows for a "connection" even if nobody from a given group has any contacts with al Qaeda
, as long as it shares "al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives". Instead of hard facts like contacts and money transfers to determine a connection, it now hinges on Kristol's evaluation of what is "shared". That's lowering the bar to the ground. If al Qaeda comes out for vaccinations, does that mean Bill Gates is a fellow traveler?