Levin out the facts

In the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) challenges  the assertions of the Vice President of the United States Richard Cheney regarding the cooperation of the Saddam regime and al Qaeda. The Senator relies on "intelligence reports" that are in fact political documents created by the Senate, not intelligence products, that the Senator had a strong hand in creating. The political nature of these reports is made clear by the fact that several Republican members of the senate intelligence committee had to defer to an appended dissension, largely unnoted by the media coverage of the report, to tell us this:

Simply stated, this second series of reports is designed to point fingers in Washington and at the Administration. The conclusions in the reports were crafted with more partisan bias than we have witnessed in a long time in Congress. The "Phase II" investigation has turned the Senate Intelligence Committee, a committee initially designed to be the most bipartisan committee in the Senate, into a political playground stripped of its bipartisan power, and this fact has not gone unnoticed in the Intelligence Community.
As happens more and more, "intelligence reports" like these are completely mischaracterized by the media partially due to the misleading statements of leading Democrats. To be clear, these reports and their supporting investigations were limited in scope in the first place and are often not as comprehensive as the Democrats insist. But we can also demonstrate the mischaracterization by the Senator of the findings of this investigation. For instance, Senator Levin said in his LA Times op-ed:

In September, for example, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a bipartisan report that Hussein was "distrustful of Al Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from Al Qaeda to provide material or operational support." And the CIA reported a year earlier, in October 2005, that the Iraqi regime "did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates."
The Senator finds support for his conclusion in a CIA report, but fails to mention that the senate committee requested an update from the CIA for the 2006 report. The CIA restated its position for the committee on the matter of prewar intelligence concerning Saddam - al Qaeda ties, found within the very report the Senator refers to:
"The research the Counterterrorist Center has done on this issue has called into question some of the reports of contacts and training . . . revealed other contacts of which we were unaware, and shed new light on some contacts that appeared in prewar reporting. On balance, this research suggests that the prewar judgment remains valid." [Emphasis added]
Though ignored by Senator Levin, the CIA reaffirmed its prewar intelligence regarding Saddam and his support to Islamic terrorism, specifically al Qaeda. So what was the previous judgment of the CIA? We can find that in the political document as well:

Iraq's interaction with al-Qa'ida is impelled by mutual antipathy toward the United States and the Saudi royal family and by bin Ladin's interest in unconventional weapons and relocation sites.
The CIA continues to find a relationship between the two actors and defines it as impelled by a common animosity for the United States and Saudi governments, and desire for WMD. It reaffirmed that reporting in the very document the Senator used to bash the Vice President with. That is a far cry from the characterization made by the Senator. The Senate committee report also shows that no other agency has conducted an in depth investigation into regime links to Islamic terrorism post OIF except for the Defense Intelligence Agency, of which the report added that one senior analyst from the DIA took the position that there was no cooperation between the actors. By far, the informed opinions listed in the report itself, a report purposely limited in scope to exclude for political reasons many sources of new information, support the Vice President's position that Saddam was working with Islamic terrorists to some degree.

Despite the Senator's claim to the contrary, the Vice President has never said that such support made the Saddam regime directly responsible for 9/11. That is indeed, another fiction that Senator Levin has manufactured. The claim made by the Vice President, a view of which there are many supporters, is that the Saddam regimes culpability for terrorism and the stated desire by al Qaeda to obtain WMD made the removal of Saddam imperative. The exact same argument was made by the majority of the Senate when it overwhelmingly passed the legal authorization to remove the Saddam regime from power.

Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
In the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) challenges  the assertions of the Vice President of the United States Richard Cheney regarding the cooperation of the Saddam regime and al Qaeda. The Senator relies on "intelligence reports" that are in fact political documents created by the Senate, not intelligence products, that the Senator had a strong hand in creating. The political nature of these reports is made clear by the fact that several Republican members of the senate intelligence committee had to defer to an appended dissension, largely unnoted by the media coverage of the report, to tell us this:

Simply stated, this second series of reports is designed to point fingers in Washington and at the Administration. The conclusions in the reports were crafted with more partisan bias than we have witnessed in a long time in Congress. The "Phase II" investigation has turned the Senate Intelligence Committee, a committee initially designed to be the most bipartisan committee in the Senate, into a political playground stripped of its bipartisan power, and this fact has not gone unnoticed in the Intelligence Community.
As happens more and more, "intelligence reports" like these are completely mischaracterized by the media partially due to the misleading statements of leading Democrats. To be clear, these reports and their supporting investigations were limited in scope in the first place and are often not as comprehensive as the Democrats insist. But we can also demonstrate the mischaracterization by the Senator of the findings of this investigation. For instance, Senator Levin said in his LA Times op-ed:

In September, for example, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a bipartisan report that Hussein was "distrustful of Al Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from Al Qaeda to provide material or operational support." And the CIA reported a year earlier, in October 2005, that the Iraqi regime "did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates."
The Senator finds support for his conclusion in a CIA report, but fails to mention that the senate committee requested an update from the CIA for the 2006 report. The CIA restated its position for the committee on the matter of prewar intelligence concerning Saddam - al Qaeda ties, found within the very report the Senator refers to:
"The research the Counterterrorist Center has done on this issue has called into question some of the reports of contacts and training . . . revealed other contacts of which we were unaware, and shed new light on some contacts that appeared in prewar reporting. On balance, this research suggests that the prewar judgment remains valid." [Emphasis added]
Though ignored by Senator Levin, the CIA reaffirmed its prewar intelligence regarding Saddam and his support to Islamic terrorism, specifically al Qaeda. So what was the previous judgment of the CIA? We can find that in the political document as well:

Iraq's interaction with al-Qa'ida is impelled by mutual antipathy toward the United States and the Saudi royal family and by bin Ladin's interest in unconventional weapons and relocation sites.
The CIA continues to find a relationship between the two actors and defines it as impelled by a common animosity for the United States and Saudi governments, and desire for WMD. It reaffirmed that reporting in the very document the Senator used to bash the Vice President with. That is a far cry from the characterization made by the Senator. The Senate committee report also shows that no other agency has conducted an in depth investigation into regime links to Islamic terrorism post OIF except for the Defense Intelligence Agency, of which the report added that one senior analyst from the DIA took the position that there was no cooperation between the actors. By far, the informed opinions listed in the report itself, a report purposely limited in scope to exclude for political reasons many sources of new information, support the Vice President's position that Saddam was working with Islamic terrorists to some degree.

Despite the Senator's claim to the contrary, the Vice President has never said that such support made the Saddam regime directly responsible for 9/11. That is indeed, another fiction that Senator Levin has manufactured. The claim made by the Vice President, a view of which there are many supporters, is that the Saddam regimes culpability for terrorism and the stated desire by al Qaeda to obtain WMD made the removal of Saddam imperative. The exact same argument was made by the majority of the Senate when it overwhelmingly passed the legal authorization to remove the Saddam regime from power.

Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.