Saddam and al-Qaeda not linked

Published: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 9:47 p.m.
Recent controversy in these pages has focused on whether President Bush had tried to gain public support for invading Iraq by claiming that Saddam Hussein was working with al-Qaeda and somehow had been involved in the 9-11 attacks.
It is true that Bush did not say in so many words that Saddam was responsible for 9-11. Nevertheless, in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion, he argued so indirectly and repeatedly by declaring, in effect, that Saddam was and had been in bed with al-Qaeda.
For example: "He's even more of a threat now that we've learned that he's anxious to have, once again, to develop a nuclear weapon. He's got connections with al-Qaeda." (Oct. 28, 2002) "We know that he's had connections with al-Qaeda." (Nov. 2, 2002) Then in his Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union speech: "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda."
Bush was clearly trying to persuade the American public that Saddam and al-Qaeda were and had been in cahoots. And he succeeded. In the months leading up to the U.S. invasion, more 40 percent of the public came to believe that Saddam had been behind the 9-11 attacks.
None of which turned out to be true.
Richard Hiers, Gainesville

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