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January 29, 2003

Put Up or Shut Up

The most important line of Bush's speech last night was this one:

And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
If Bush has proof of this, he's got his invasion.

But he doesn't. It's a lie, confirmed by his buddy Tony Blair who claims that they have support for the idea but then admits "We do know of links between al Qaeda and Iraq -- we cannot be sure of the exact extent of those links."

Note the word - "links"- not "alliance", not "protection", just "links"-- as in the US being allied with Saudi princes, who fund radical Islam around the world, or the usual CIA contacts that existed with al-Qaida almost up until 911.

It's a hoary point, but the US was still funding the Taliban to the tune of millions of dollars right up until the 911 attacks. There is no evidence of Iraq having even that level of economic engagement with either the Taliban or al-Qaida.

So "links"-- breathless revelations of some lower-level al-Qaida operative meeting with some lower-level Iraqi official -- just won't be that impressive, however Bush and the hawks try to make it out to be.

If they have the goods, they should show it.

Otherwise, they are using the excuse of secrecy to pretend to have more information to justify a war than they can reveal. After the Gulf of Tonkin and other lies that led to war, that's no longer a justified argument.

Since Bush has opened the door on this lie to justify the war, the antiwar forces should broadly and loudly demand that the Bush administration Put Up or Shut Up.

Posted by Nathan at January 29, 2003 10:45 AM

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