For some reason I can't quite fathom, our former friends in Europe want to prove to themselves and to us — particularly to the Bush administration — that there was no connection between Al Qaeda (search) and Iraq (search).

It has been acknowledged all the way up to President Bush that, despite many deep suspicions, there is no proof of a connection between Saddam and Sept. 11. Notice I said "proof." People keep demanding proof when they know proof of something like that is highly unlikely. Saddam Hussein kept his fingerprints off attacks against the United States.

At the same time, even Bush haters will grudgingly acknowledge the connections and contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda — though lately, they have begun to deny even that. Never mind that the 9/11 Commission (search) and the Senate Intelligence report detailed those connections — believe them, or not — but there they are.

So why do we see Defense Secretary Rumsfeld catching it at the Council of Foreign Relations about connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq and proof... again?

Because it's political season and the Bush haters want desperately to be able to say there is no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda because they want to disconnect Iraq and the War on Terror and they want to disconnect, or decouple those two simply because they want Bush out.

Truth evidently has little do with it.

But facts are stubborn. The fact is an Iraqi agent picked up two 9/11 hijackers at the airport at Kuala Lumpur for their big pre-9/11 meeting. The fact is Ramzi Yousef was an Iraqi intelligence agent — he was the one who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993. The fact is al-Zarqawi is Al Qaeda, or something so close they are kissing cousins.

And the bigger fact is that whatever is going on in Iraq today — whatever bad thing is happening today, or tomorrow — it's not as bad for Americans as leaving Saddam Hussein in power, in my opinion. Because, if he'd been left in power he would have hit us one day, sooner or later.

Iraq is and was the War on Terror. Separating them for politics is cynical and dangerous.

That's My Word.

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