Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly
classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence
linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was
scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties
with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former
officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the
"President's Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national
security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from
electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence
services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public
statements by foreign leaders.
One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing
was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda
involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam
viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations
as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts
believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi
nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its
inner workings, according to records and sources.
The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the
president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to
learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al