Chris Wallace: Rethink Saddam-Osama Ties

The press needs to rethink claims that there was no operational link between Iraq and al Qaida in light of new Iraqi intelligence documents revealing that Saddam Hussein approved "joint operations" with Osama bin Laden against the U.S., "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace said Friday.

"You've got to keep an open mind," Wallace told KLIF Dallas fill-in radio host, Steve Malzberg.

"It's one of the worst things that a reporter can do when he doesn't allow himself to be persuaded by the facts. When it's like, 'I know better.'" Wallace explained. "But if there's a secret document, a record of meetings that happened . . . you've got to go where the facts lead you.

The Iraqi intelligence document, first reported earlier this week by the Weekly Standard, detailed a February 1995 meeting between bin Laden and senior agents of Saddam's Mukhabarrat intelligence service, where the al Qaida chief asked for help with "joint operations" against the U.S.

Wallace said the development may force "a new understanding of the relationship between al Qaida and Hussein's regime in Iraq."
"You've got to be open-minded enough to acknowledge that," he added.

The Fox host's sentiments aren't yet shared by all of his colleagues. MSNBC host Chris Matthews, for instance, sounded Friday morning like he was either unaware of the "joint operations" document or had already decided to dismiss it.

Complaining to radio host Don Imus that the White House has repeatedly tried to mislead the American people about an Iraqi role in al Qaida terrorism, Matthews said:

"Recently the president suggested that [the Iraq war] was almost a hot pursuit - like a New York police chase - we chased them back into their country, we pursued the terrorists back to Iraq. And it's all nonsense."

The MSNBC host made no mention of the "joint operations" document.

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