O'Reilly's Big Lie on Letterman

Bill O'Reilly at one point in his face off with David Letterman attempted to stump Letterman and prove Iraq had ties to terrorism by citing Ansar al-Islam. According to O'Reilly, Ansar al-Islam was a terrorist group tied to al-Qaeda who was in Iraq before the war working with Saddam Hussein. Of course, it's a lie.

The Senate Report of Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq has concluded that Ansar al-Islam was considered a threat to the Saddam regime. They were enemies -- not allies.

Here's the quote from the Republican led Senate committee (page 92-93):

According to the DIA[Defense Intelligence Agency], detainee information and captured document exploitation indicate that the regime [of Saddam Hussein] was aware of Ansar al-Islam and al-Qa'ida presence in northeastern Iraq, but the groups' presence was considered a threat to the regime and the Iraqi government attempted intelligence collection operations against them. The DIA stated that information from senior Ansar al-Islam detainees revealed that the group viewed Saddam's regime as apostate, and denied any relationship with it.

A threat to the regime! Saddam attempted intelligence collection operations against them! And O'Reilly tried to use this as a reason why we had to invade Iraq. Ansar al-Islam was inside Iraq and they were connected to al-Qaeda -- and poor Dave Letterman couldn't understand these complexities according to O'Reilly.

Yes, they were inside Iraq -- trying to undermine Saddam Hussein's regime!

There is complexity in that they were also against the main Kurdish factions, who were also fighting against Saddam Hussein (kind of like how almost everyone in Iraq was against Saddam Hussein before the war and are still fighting each other now anyway). So, Ansar al-Islam was connected to al-Qaeda and was fighting against the Kurds and Saddam.

This should not be surprising because the Senate Intelligence Report also concluded that Saddam "was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime."

Terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was connected to Ansar al-Islam and al-Qaeda. But contrary to the Republican talking point that this proved Saddam was working with al-Qaeda, the Senate Report concluded that, "postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."

In other words, Saddam was trying to capture Zarqawi before we came in, and, in effect, let Zarqawi loose for several years to reak tremendous damage in Iraq. Let alone the NBC report that indicates we had three different chances to kill Zarqawi before the war and the Bush WHite House turned down all three opportunities.

Finally, the leader of Ansar al-Islam, Mullah Krekar has called Saddam Hussein his sworn enemy. So, according to O'Reilly's logic we had to invade Iraq to get rid of Saddam's sworn enemy. Maybe, this is all too complicated for O'Reilly to comprehend, not Letterman.

And, of course, Letterman said the one thing during the interview that turned out to be the most correct of all, "You're putting words into my mouth, just the way you put artificial facts in your head."

The Young Turks