Uh, WaPo, Saddam's been gone for 5 years

Yet another stupid Palin smear arises today, on the front page of the Washington Post, no less.  Anne Kornblut writes that Sarah Palin linked 9/11 to Saddam Hussein in telling troops departing to Iraq that they would be fighting the same people who attacked America.  Perhaps the Washington Post hasn’t yet realized it, but Saddam and his regime have long since been dispatched to history:

Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”

The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.

“America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before September 11, 2001,” she said at the deployment ceremony, which drew hundreds of military families who walked from their homes on the sprawling post to the airstrip where the service was held.

Watch the speech for yourselves:

(~4:30) You’ll be there in service to the same cause of freedom from tyranny and from violence. You’ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned, carried out, and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the US now fights al-Qaeda remnants in Iraq, and not Saddam Hussein, who’s been dead for many moons now. His regime collapsed in the first weeks of the American invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, more than five years ago. Palin’s comment clearly doesn’t refer to Saddam Hussein or link 9/11 to him.

Bill Kristol notes the problem, and the dishonest response from the Post:

Kornblut’s interpretation of what Palin said is either stupid or malicious. Palin is evidently saying that American soldiers are going to Iraq to defend innocent Iraqis from al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that is related to al Qaeda, which did plan and carry out the Sept. 11 attacks. It makes no sense for Kornblut to claim that Palin is arguing here that Saddam Hussein’s regime carried out 9/11–obviously Palin isn’t saying that our soldiers are now going over to Iraq to fight Saddam’s regime. Palin isn’t linking Saddam to 9/11. She’s linking al Qaeda in Iraq to al Qaeda.

People can debate how intimate that connection is, and how much of the fight in Iraq is now against al Qaeda in Iraq–but it’s simply the case that Palin is not saying what Kornblut says she is, and that the Washington Post is, right now, leading its paper with a clear distortion of what Palin said.

What happened to the layers of fact-checkers and editors? Surely one of them must have recalled Saddam’s fall and death. At the very least, they could have Googled it to discover that we’re not fighting the government of Iraq any longer, and haven’t been for years, in order to understand that reference.

It’s probably the same people who haven’t noticed that their RSS feeds on politics and national news haven’t updated in five days.