A declassified Pentagon report released Thursday concludes that there was no direct cooperation between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qeada. But Dick Cheney, apparently, remains convinced there was.
The Washington Post on Friday said the report, which had been issued in summary form in February, drew on "captured Iraqi documents" and "interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides" which "all confirmed" that Saddam and al Qaeda were not working together prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The Los Angeles Times said the report also sheds new light on the concerted effort within the Defense Department to establish a Saddam-al Qaeda link, despite a consensus in the intelligence community that Iraq and al Qaeda had only limited contacts – and that claims of deeper ties were based on dubious or unconfirmed data.
Not so, says Cheney. The same day the declassified report was released, the Post says, the vice president went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show to repeat his assertion that al Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.
Cheney used the claim to bolster his argument that pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq would "play right into the hands of al Qaeda."
The Post points out, however, that Zarqawi was not a member of al Qaeda before the war, but "was the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group." He didn't publicly ally himself with al Qaeda until early 2004, after the U.S. invasion.
An SOS For 911
There's a major problem with the nation's 911-emergency telephone system, the New York Times reports Friday.
Although the technology has been available for years, the Times says many areas of the country lack the ability to pinpoint the location of cell phone calls – which is delaying the response to some emergencies, sometimes with life-threatening consequences.
Like the case of 911 operators in eastern Oklahoma who listened for more than 27 minutes to the harrowing screams of a woman who was being brutally beaten by an intruder, but were unable to do anything, since they could not identify where she was calling from. She had managed to dial 911 and kick her phone under the sofa, hoping she would be rescued. Fortunately, her attacker fled and she survived.
Others were not so lucky. A 4-year-old girl, also in Oklahoma, died in a house fire last year after a 911 operator misheard the address a cell-phone caller had given her and was unable to trace the location.
The Times says efforts are underway to upgrade 911 systems around the country, but the costs can be prohibitive, especially for the rural counties most in need of the technology boosts.
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