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|[Ben]:||Putin Warned of Saddam Threat ||No discussion found|
|Amusing how things change, isn't it? Used to be we'd not trust the Russians as far as we could throw them. Now we go to war at least partially on the basis of their shared intel.|
I find this new information particularly odd considering the Russian opposition to war in Iraq. Maybe just different parts of the Russian government pursuing different agendas?
Russia 'warned U.S. about Saddam'
Friday, June 18, 2004 Posted: 8:38 AM EDT (1238 GMT)
Putin: "Russia's position on Iraq remains unchanged."
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian intelligence services warned Washington several times that Saddam Hussein's regime planned terrorist attacks against the United States, President Vladimir Putin has said.
The warnings were provided after September 11, 2001 and before the start of the Iraqi war, Putin said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency.
The planned attacks were targeted both inside and outside the United States, said Putin, who made the remarks during a visit to Kazakhstan.
However, Putin said there was no evidence that Saddam's regime was involved in any terrorist attacks.
"After September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services ... received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests," Interfax quoted Putin as saying.
"Despite that information about terrorist attacks being prepared by Saddam's regime, Russia's position on Iraq remains unchanged," Putin said.
Putin made his comments in response to a question from reporters seeking clarification on similar statements leaked by an unnamed intelligence officer in a dispatch by Interfax.
U.S. President George W. Bush personally thanked the head of one of the Russian intelligence services for the information, which he called "very valuable," said CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty.
Russia opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, but Putin said the issue of going to war was separate from a potential Iraqi threat. He said there were international norms that weren't observed in carrying out the war.
The United States never mentioned the Russian intelligence in its arguments for going to war.
Putin's comments come two days after members of a U.S. commission looking into the September 11 attacks found there was "no collaborative" relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The panel also found "no credible evidence" that Iraq was involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda hijackers.
Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, have strongly disputed suggestions that the commission's conclusions contradict statements they made in the run-up to the Iraq war about links between Iraq and al Qaeda.
Cheney said Thursday the evidence is "overwhelming" that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam's regime. He said media reports suggesting that the 9/11 commission has reached a contradictory conclusion were "irresponsible." (Full story)
Bush, who has said himself that there is no evidence Iraq was involved in 9/11, sought to explain the distinction Thursday.
The president said that while the administration never "said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" with Iraqi help, "we did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda."
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Bush said. (Full story)
In the lead-up to the Iraq war, Bush made stronger statements alleging cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda.
In a October 2002 speech he said, "Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases."
The 9/11 commission's report said bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to (Saddam) Hussein's secular regime."
It says the contact was pushed by the Sudanese, "to protect their own ties with Iraq," but after bin Laden asked for space in Iraq for training camps, "Iraq apparently never responded."
The report also said, "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship."
CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.
Putin Warned of Saddam Threat