"So Safire ignored what his paper's own reporters reported, and he juggled a highly selective set of factoids to make a rather serious charge: Ansar al-Islam equals Al Qaeda. He also ridiculed as 'simply silly' the notion that strong evidence was necessary to make this case, deriding those skeptics who would demand that 'the Ansar boss in Iraq must be found carrying an official Qaeda membership card signed by bin Laden.'
But the last laugh (of derision) was on Safire. According to whom? The New York Times. Ten days after Safire's 'smoking-gun' column, a page-one story by Douglas Jehl (the same Jehl whom Safire had hailed), reported that Ansar al-Islam 'appears to be operating mostly apart from Al Qaeda, senior American officials say.' Whoops.
Jehl's report continued: 'Most significantly, the officials said, American intelligence had picked up signs that Qaeda members outside Iraq had refused a request from the group, Ansar al-Islam, for help in attacking Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq.' Double whoops. "