Unclassified — Commission Use Only Date: June 11,2003 To: Philip Zelikow From: Mike Hurley and Dan Byman

Re: Assessing Iraq's Links to al-Qa'ida CC: Chris Kojm, Doug MacEachin, and Kevin Scheid The relationship between Iraq and al-Qa'ida, and more broadly the one between Iraq and terrorism, raises several issues for the Commission's work.1 As this issue is politically sensitive and analytically muddy, it may be best to start from a common sheet of paper. This is especially important in that the inquiry into this relationship could quickly become resource and labor intensive. Therefore, it is advisable to determine how far we wish to delve into it. For many years before the September 11 attacks, several outside commentators (most notably Laurie Mylroie, whose work was endorsed by former DCI Woolsey and influential advisors such as Richard Perle), claimed that Iraq was^ responsible for several terrorist attacks commonly-attributed to al-Qa'ida. Mylroie focuses her charges on the 1993 World Trade Center attack, but also raises questions about the Oklahoma City bombing, the 1998 Embassy bombings, and other incidents. Immediately after the September 11 attack, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz and others argued for a war against Iraq as part of the first salvo in the war against terrorism. In the build up to the second Gulf war, President Bush and his senior advisors contended that Iraq had links to al-Qa'ida, though they did not claim that Saddam's regime had a specific connection "with the September 11 attacks. These claims raise several related questions for Teams One, Two, and Three: For Team One: • • Was Iraq behind any attacks commonly attributed to al-Qa'ida? To what extent did Iraq support, direct, facilitate, or otherwise help al-Qa'ida, both before and after September 11?

For Team Two: • If there were strong links before September 11, why did the Intelligence Community miss these connections or not convey them to senior Clinton administration officials, several of whom have said publicly they saw little evidence of any link? Conversely, if there were strong links before September 11 that were widely known, did policy makers politicize intelligence or otherwise try to minimize these links?

1

The Congressional Joint 9-11 Inquiry did not examine Iraq's relationship with al-Qa'ida in any detail.

Unclassified — Commission Use Only

Unclassified — Commission Use Only

If there were not strong links after September 11, was intelligence politicized by policy makers trying to build a case for war?

For Team Three: • • Did the failure to remove Saddam's regime before September 11 help al-Qa'ida directly or indirectly? Did the recent focus on Iraq hinder the effort against al-Qa'ida? If there were no strong links between Iraq and terrorism, did the effort to join the two issues hinder the pursuit of either one?

We have several options when we conduct our research: • First, we can simply address this issue in passing. If we believe the intelligence linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida is weak, and we believe the policy implications-were limited to rather harmless "overselling," then we can move on. This option is especially attractive given that each team already has considerable work to do. Second, we can assess the intelligence aspects of this question but leave the policy implications for another day. The work involved would be more limited, and we'd avoid making judgments on extremely contentious issues. Third, we can engage in a comprehensive review that addresses the various intelligence and policy issues. It may be best for this to be a classified appendix or otherwise distinct from the larger body of work.

To end with the obvious, the political sensitivities of this issue are considerable. Even the fact that we are investigating this connection may prove contentious. The claims that Iraq had strong links to al-Qa'ida after September 11 in particular represents a political football if we or any other official voice contend that this issue was overblown by policy makers justifying going to war, even if this was done in good faith.

Unclassified — Commission Use Only