No link found between Iraq, 9-11 attacks
Although the pre-war threat of weapons of mass destruction from Iraq seems to have been pretty much discredited these days, there is another justification for the war that remains in some people's minds.
The Bush administration told the American public that Iraq harbored terrorists - a chain of reasoning that led citizens to wrongly connect Iraq to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately, the president is still calling Iraq 'the central front in the war on terrorism.'
There is no doubt that there are terrorists in Iraq - many of them coming into the country in the months after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein's government. Along with groups loyal to the deposed dictator, they have been attacking coalition troops and Iraqis working with them. In fact, U.S. officials believe Islamic terrorists, not Saddam loyalists, staged the suicide bombings in Iraq that killed more than 180 people at Shiite Muslim shrines in Baghdad and Karbala.
But these terrorist attacks came after the war. Although the Iraqi government did have occasional contact with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network before the invasion, Iraq and al-Qaida weren't working together, American officials told Knight Ridder Newspapers.
'Nearly a year after U.S. and British troops invaded Iraq, no evidence has turned up to verify allegations of Hussein's links with al-Qaida, and several key parts of the administration's case have either proved false or seem increasingly doubtful,' it was reported by the newspapers.
Last year, members of the Bush administration acted surprised to learn that more than half of all Americans thought Iraq had something to do with the hijacked airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. But when administration officials continue to mention Iraq in the same sentence as the war on terror, it's bound to confuse some people.
Saddam wasn't to blame for September 11, and neither are the Iraqi people. None of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks were Iraqi; 15 of them were Saudi Arabian. Although Saddam Hussein was a cruel, vicious dictator - and no one can argue that Iraq isn't better off without him - there is no credible evidence that he was a terror threat to the United States when we attacked Iraq.
After the 2001 attacks, U.S. military action in Afghanistan, where the Taliban government harbored terrorists, was certainly justified. American forces ousted the regime that gave the terror network a safe haven and helped reduce the threat of further terrorist actions against the United States.
But attacking Iraq hasn't had the same effect. Instead, the presence of U.S. troops in another Mideast country serves as a magnet for fanatics and stretches our military thin.
America has sent its sons and daughters to risk their lives in Iraq. Whether we agree or disagree with that decision, we should understand why our military personnel are there - and September 11 has nothing to do with it.