David Letterman didn't try to hide the fact last night that he just plain doesn't like Bill O'Reilly. He wasted no time bashing FOX News and doing what few people can do -- ridiculing O'Reillys ratings (Letterman's audience is more than 2x as large .) While sparring over Iraq, Letterman interrupted the giant talking head saying he "doesn't care" what Bill has to say. When Bill O, in typical FAUX form, tried to suggest that Dave believes "Bush is an evil liar" and that "America is a bad country" Letterman comes back with the line of the month:
"You're trying to put words in my mouth just the way you put artificial facts in your head."
Letterman: Let me ask you a question -- was there more heinous, more dangerous violence taking place before in Iraq, or is there more heinous, dangerous violence taking place now in Iraq?
O'Reilly: Oh, stop it. Saddam Hussein slaughtered 300,000 to 400,000 people, all right, so knock it off... It isn't so black and white, Dave -- it isn't, 'We're a bad country. Bush is an evil liar.' That's not true.
Letterman: I didn't say he was an evil liar. You're putting words in my mouth, just the way you put artificial facts in your head!
Dave concedes at the end that he has "no idea what he's talking about", but added that neither does Bill. It seems Dave was on to something. A fact check of Bill's assertion that Ansar al-Islam worked with the approval of Saddam Hussein's government is wholly unsupported by the Senate Intelligence Committee report (.pdb) released a few moths ago that is the most definitive work to date on the glaring differences between pre-war rhetoric and post-war reality.
(For a breakdown of O'Reilly's disingenuous claim (i.e. lie), read the rest of this story...)
The Senate Intelligence Committee writes on pages 71-72 that Saddam had virtually no control over the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq, that there were flaws that "undermined confidence in the reporting" of such a relationship and that Ansar al-Islam that was not "a branch of al Qaeda." Furthermore, Saddam's regime had no contact with the group other than to possibly infiltrate it to gather intelligence. The report concludes on page 110: "Postwar information reveals that Baghdad viewed Ansar al-Islam as a threat to the regime and that the IIS attempted to collect intelligence on the group."
In other words, not only does Bill grasp at straws to justify the unjustifiable -- namely, a working relationship between Saddam Hussein and terrorist groups that legitimized invasion -- he mischaracterizes a relationship that is highly dubious at best and completely non-existent at worst to do so. It's amazing that Bush-supporters still try to use these unsubstantiated claims in order to somehow validate the all-out, guns-a-blazing, disastrous war we have waged.
The report also shows that not only did Saddam not have a relationship with al Qaeda, he distrusted them so greatly that he even tried to capture Zarqawi -- shattering the Bush administrations most potent conspiracy theory. For anyone who hasn't read the the reports conclusions, they're absolutely shocking in that it conclusively show that all pre-war claims were bogus including Niger yellow-cake, aluminum tubes and Atta-in-Prague the were the "strongest" pieces of evidence indicating a WMD program and Saddam-al-Qaeda link.
Farleft has the full transcript