A question I answered today at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations regarding ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq regrettably was misunderstood.
I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
This assessment was based upon points provided to me by then CIA Director George Tenet to describe the CIA's understanding of the Al Qaeda-Iraq relationship.
Today at the Council, I even noted that "when I'm in Washington, I pull out a piece of paper and say 'I don't know, because I'm not in that business, but I'll tell you what the CIA thinks,' and I read it."
The CIA conclusions in that paper, which I discussed in a news conference as far back as September, 2002, note that:
* We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
* We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological agent training.
* We have what we believe to be credible information that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven opportunities in Iraq.
* We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities.
* We do have one report indicating that Iraq provided unspecified training relating to chemical and/or biological matters for al Qaeda members.
I should also note that the 9/11 Commission report described linkages between Al Qaeda and Iraq as well.