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Today's Dispatch From An Alternative Universe

It's by Stephen Hayes, who's traveling with Dick Cheney in Iraq:

Cheney: Iraq Supported Terror, al Qaeda
Baghdad, Iraq
Sitting in the U.S. Embassy just blocks from the bombed out headquarters of the former Iraqi Intelligence Service, Vice President Dick Cheney said today that a new Pentagon study issued last week confirms Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein's Iraq supported a broad range of terrorists groups, including al Qaeda. But he dodged a question about why the Bush administration has failed to discuss the report in public, saying that the report was relatively new and that he hadn't had time to talk to the press office about it.

The Pentagon report highlights what Cheney called "extensive links" between Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the former Iraqi regime. A captured Iraqi Intelligence document dated March 18, 1993, lists the EIJ as one of nine terrorist organizations the regime was actively supporting at the time. "We have previously met with the organization's representative and we agreed on a plan to carry out commando operations against the Egyptian regime."

Cheney was pressed by a reporter who noted that the Executive Summary of the Pentagon report claims "no direction connection" between Iraq and al Qaeda. "Seems pretty clear to me that it was," he said, pointing out that Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad later merged with al Qaeda.

The Pentagon report has been widely mischaracterized as refuting Bush administration claims that Iraq supported jihadist terror, including al Qaeda. Those reports are incorrect.

The above, by the way, isn't from the Onion but from the Weekly Standard's website. I know it can be a bit hard to tell the difference.

P.S. Even better is Hayes's Standard print piece that gives his, uh, alternative reading of the Pentagon report--which includes this wonderful bit of whining:

How can a study offering an unprecedented look into the closed regime of a brutal dictator, with over 1,600 pages of "strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism," in the words of its authors, receive a wave-of-the-hand dismissal from America's most prestigious news outlets? All it took was a leak to a gullible reporter, one misleading line in the study's executive summary, a boneheaded Pentagon press office, an incompetent White House, and widespread journalistic negligence.

I can't even think of the appropriate analogy here. Is Hayes like a water boy complaining that he wants to win more than the players? Or is he like Diogenes searching for a Saddam-Al Qaeda link? 

--Jason Zengerle