I have sent the following e-mail to Los Angeles Times Readers’ Representative Jamie Gold:
A March 28 article titled “John McCain is betting big on Iraq” states:
Postwar investigations, including the 9/11 Commission Report and a report this month financed by the Pentagon, found no evidence of a “collaborative relationship” between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.
The use of quotation marks around the phrase “collaborative relationship” indicates that both reports used that phrase. But neither the 9/11 Commission Report nor the Pentagon report contains the phrase “collaborative relationship.” Here are links to the 9/11 Commission Report and the Pentagon report. Neither uses the phrase “collaborative relationship.”
I think your writer may have been quoting a “staff statement” prepared by the staff for the Commission, as distinguished from the final report by the Commission itself. The distinction is meaningful. The New York Times quoted Commissioner Kean as saying of the staff statement: “This was a staff statement, and we’ve had commissioners who have disagreed occasionally with the staff statements, and this may be one of those occasions.”
And indeed, the conclusion regarding Iraq/Al Qaeda contacts was worded differently in the Commission’s final report, which took care to refer to an absence of “collaborative operational relationship” — while the report listed many contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
The inclusion of the word “operational” in the 9/11 Commission Report was a critical difference that reflected the opinion of many Commissioners that there was indeed a series of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, that, in the words of one, amounted to a “cooperative relationship” — just not an operational relationship that culminated in the 9/11 attacks. For a full explanation of why the use of the word “operational” in the final report is critical, you can read my post here (and the links therein).
I suggest a correction along these lines:
A March 28 article stated that: “Postwar investigations, including the 9/11 Commission Report and a report this month financed by the Pentagon, found no evidence of a ‘collaborative relationship’ between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.” In fact, that phrase did not appear in either report. The phrase appeared in a statement prepared by the staff of the 9/11 Commission, while the 9/11 Commission’s final report alluded to the lack of a “collaborative operational relationship.”
Put simply: the article asserts that two reports used a phrase that neither actually used. I think a correction is in order.
Previous post here.
I’m not even bothering with the bit about “Bush administration claims that Hussein appeared linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” I’m sticking with the clear, provable falsehood.