The Center for American Progress' Judd Legum has been sending us updates on Vice President Cheney's attempts to keep positing a relationship between Saddam Hussein and the late Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, despite the Senate Intelligence Committee's Phase II Report's conclusions to the contrary. White House press secretary Tony Snow has now gotten into the act.
Back in the prewar period, the claim of a Zarqawi/Saddam relationship was for me the tipoff that there was something fishy about the case for invading Iraq. It was clear even then that Zarqawi was operating in areas of the country Saddam didn't control, and the close-enough-for-government-work argument that Hey, they're both in the same country! was a pretty big red flag about the rest of the case—most of which was even more shielded in national security pettifoggery than the Zarqawi stuff. (The intelligence committee report does note that Zarqawi once entered Baghdad under an assumed name and that Saddam tried to catch him. Iran hawks will be pleased to note that he also seems to have spent some time in Iran.) Now that a Senate controlled by the president's own party has taken the last plank out of this creaky platform, it's time for the White House to abandon it.
Not that I think there's much chance that any minds will change as a result of the report. By my calculation, we can now fit the American electorate into three neat groups: One-third believe Saddam was behind 9/11. One-third believe the U.S. government was behind 9/11. And one third can't believe it's not butter.
And lest you think that's too simple, remember that this still leaves us with more constituencies than there are major political parties.