Posted by Wordsmith on 13 September, 2008 at 9:38 pm. 42 comments already!


Mr. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?

Meet the Press, September 16, 2001

I can’t remember who it was now, but a commenter on another blog posed a challenge to me that echoed what I have already been pondering upon: If Bush didn’t lie, why do (or did) so many Americans think that Saddam is linked to the events of 9/11?

I ran a quick Google search, and found this Washington Post article by Dana Milbank, dated from September 6, 2003. This is months after the Invasion (and a year before I even knew what a blog was). The piece is fascinating to me, as I find disagreement with some of the facts, a perpetuation of some of the media distortions regarding Administration statements, and a few points that do make sense to me.

Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds
By Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 6, 2003; Page A01

Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of

The emphases are mine.

Whenever I ask Bush war critics for evidence where President Bush or Vice President Cheney ever stated that Saddam had a hand in 9/11, the response I get back is, “Well…it was insinuated.”

Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they thought it at least likely that Hussein was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the latest Washington Post poll. That impression, which exists despite the fact that the hijackers were mostly Saudi nationals acting for al Qaeda, is broadly shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents. The main reason for the endurance of the apparently groundless belief, experts in public opinion say, is a deep and enduring distrust of Hussein that makes him a likely suspect in anything related to Middle East violence. “It’s very easy to picture Saddam as a demon,” said John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University and an expert on public opinion and war. “You get a general fuzz going around: People know they don’t like al Qaeda, they are horrified by September 11th, they know this guy is a bad guy, and it’s not hard to put those things together.”

That would make sense, given that even though America was largely asleep before 9/11 to the metastasizing threat of Islamic terrorism, media reports and politicians throughout the 90’s were pointing to links between al Qaeda and to Saddam; those links weren’t just magically pulled from out of thin air by Feith’s Office of Special Planning.

You don’t suppose the American public might have been “misled” into the Saddam/al-Qaeda connection belief, by following a decade’s worth of news coverage regarding Saddam’s defiance and brutality? “Regime change”/Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 created as official U.S. policy toward Iraq under Clinton? How about tuning into TV news programs like this one:

The ABC news video segment, Target America: The Terrorist War, is from “Crime and Justice”. It aired on January 14, 1999 and featured John Miller, the late John McWethy, Sheila MacVicar, and Cynthia McFadden.

Other examples:

“Last week, [television program] Day One confirmed [Yasin] is in Baghdad…Just a few days ago, he was seen at [his father’s] house by ABC News. Neighbors told us Yasin comes and goes freely.” -Sheila MacVicar, Former ABC News correspondent, “‘America’s Most Wanted’ – Fugitive Terrorists.” ABC News’ “Day One,” July 27, 1994

Saddam link to Bin Laden, by Julian Borger in The Guardian, Saturday February 6, 1999
Bin Laden reportedly leaves Afghanistan, whereabouts unknown reported by CNN/AP February 13, 1999

Numerous media reports in 1999 mention Saddam offering Osama bin Laden asylum.

Iraq-Bin Laden boat bomb link
, October 19, 2000 by Julian Borger in the Guardian:

Investigators in Yemen yesterday uncovered evidence suggesting the bomb attack on the warship USS Cole had been a meticulously organised conspiracy, which a leading US terrorism expert said may have been the first joint operation between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.


Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA’s former head of counter-terrorist operations and a respected expert on Middle Eastern terrorism, said the timing, location and method of the attack pointed to Bin Laden’s terrorist network, al-Qaeda.

He argued that the sophistication of the bomb – an estimated 272kg of high explosive shaped and placed within a metal container to channel the blast and penetrate the armoured hull of the USS Cole – suggested the involvement of a state.

“The Iraqis have wanted to be able to carry out terrorism for some time now,” Mr Cannistraro said. “Their military people have had liaison with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and could well have supplied the training.”

He said the theory was still speculative but was consistent with the series of recent contacts between Baghdad and the Bin Laden organisation.

Don’t you suppose that if people were paying attention to the news, a decade of reports like these might have influenced and reinforced the dangers and defiance Saddam posed? The terror links and ties to bin Laden? I’m not talking about actual operational ties that might have since been discounted; just the perception of a connection, due to media reports, which took place before the Bush presidency, thereby cementing upon the American psyche, an indelible imprint of a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

And then this from May 7, 2003, as reported on CBS News:

A federal judge Wednesday ordered Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and others to pay early $104 million to the families of two Sept. 11 victims, saying there is evidence – though meager – that Iraq had a hand in the terrorist attacks.

Back to the September 2003 WaPo piece:

Although that belief came without prompting from Washington, Democrats and some independent experts say Bush exploited the apparent misconception by implying a link between Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the months before the war with Iraq. “The notion was reinforced by these hints, the discussions that they had about possible links with al Qaeda terrorists,” said Andrew Kohut, a pollster who leads the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

The poll’s findings are significant because they help to explain why the public continues to support operations in Iraq despite the setbacks and bloodshed there. Americans have more tolerance for war when it is provoked by an attack, particularly one by an all-purpose villain such as Hussein. “That’s why attitudes about the decision to go to war are holding up,” Kohut said.

Bush’s opponents say he encouraged this misconception by linking al Qaeda to Hussein in almost every speech on Iraq.

I’m a little lazy to go through all of these speeches; I’ve seen them before, and think it’s mostly “Bush opponents”, as described in the above, who are misrepresenting the actual text and context of what is said in those speeches.

Critics can’t seem to wrap their minds around how something like the following:

“We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th. There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” – Pres. Bush 9/17/03

is not a contradiction in statements.

Many people also seem to have fixated narrowly on al-Qaeda as the sole enemy, not understanding the long war we find ourselves in against international terror, and how Saddam is connected to that, strategically. Basically, they are stuck on the 9/10 law enforcement mindset, thinking the war is about “bringing to justice, dead or alive” Osama bin Laden and his merciless band of al Qaeda crazies. Douglas Feith makes clear in his book, War and Decision, however, that war discussions were not about retribution, but about how to prevent the next terror attack.

“Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
-President Bush in an address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, United States Capitol, Washington D.C., September 20, 2001.

Indeed, administration officials began to hint about a Sept. 11-Hussein link soon after the attacks.

Read my opening quote, dated the first Sunday following 9/11. It is true, though, that Iraq was mentioned early on in discussions, given that “9/11 did not mean simply that the United States had an al Qaida problem. We had a terrorism problem. A strategic response to 9/11 would have to take account of the threat from other terrorist groups…and state sponsors beyond Afghanistan, especially those that pursued weapons of mass destruction.” [pg. 50, War and Decision]

According to Feith, in regards to the charge that the Bush team came into the office hell-bent on going to war with Iraq,

The question of how to deal with Iraq was a key national security issue inherited from the Clinton administration.

Feith also writes in War and Decision, pg. 51-2:

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz also wanted to sketch out the case for acting soon, in one way or another, against the threat from Iraq. Powell and Armitage had been arguing that the U.S. response to 9/11 should focus tightly on Afghanistan and al Qaida. State officials assessed, probably correctly, that our allies and friends abroad would be more comfortable with retributive U.S. strikes against the perpetrators of 9/11 than with a global war against Islamist terrorists and their state supporters. A narrowly scoped campaign of punishment would keep U.S. policy more in line with the traditional law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism.

Here we came back to the distinction between punishment and prevention. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and I all thought that U.S. military action should aim chiefly to disrupt those who might be plotting the next big attack against us. Of greatest concern was a terrorist attack using biological or nuclear weapons. We needed actions that would affect the terrorist network as extensively as possible.

Rodman and I proposed in our memo that “the immediate priority targets for initial action” should be al Qaida, the Taliban, and Iraq. Iraq was on this list, we noted, because Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a “threat of WMD terrorism,” and was systematically undermining the ten-year-old efforts of the United States and the United Nations to counter the dangers of his regime. Among terrorist-supporting states with records of pursuing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, only Iraq had been subjected to prolonged, multinational diplomatic pressure, yet Saddam remained defiant and securely in power- and hostile to the United States. The experience of 9/11 sharpened the concern about anti-U.S. terrorism from any quarter, not just al Qaida.

The purpose of a campaign in Iraq, we noted, would be “to destabilize a regime that engages in and supports terrorism, that has weapons of mass destruction and is developing new ones, that attacks U.S. forces almost daily and otherwise threatens vital U.S. interests.” Action against Iraq could make it easier to “confront- politically, militarily, or otherwise- other state supporters of terrorism” such as the regimes of Muammar Qadafi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which had a record of backing down under international pressure. We identified Libya and Syria as problems that might be solvable through coercive diplomacy rather than through military action.

At the Camp David strategy sessions, Rumsfeld’s remarks generally tracked the ideas in our memo. He left it to Wolfowitz, however, to present the case for action against Saddam Hussein. The President decided to initiate U.S. military action in Afghanistan, but to defer such action against Iraq.

The “link” the Administration drew early on in regards to Saddam and 9/11, wasn’t about fabricating a belief that Saddam had a role in plotting 9/11. It was about preventing the next terror attack that might come in the form of a wmd attack, supplied by a state-sponsor of terrorism, known also for its love for acquiring wmd capabilities.

Of course, given what we did know about Saddam, the Bush Administration would have been derelict in its duty to protect the American public had it not examined that possibility.


In late 2001, Vice President Cheney said it was “pretty well confirmed” that attack mastermind Mohamed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney was referring to a meeting that Czech officials said took place in Prague in April 2000. That allegation was the most direct connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks. But this summer’s congressional report on the attacks states, “The CIA has been unable to establish that [Atta] left the United States or entered Europe in April under his true name or any known alias.”

I’ve already gone through a number of Cheney’s MtP interviews for those “gotcha” statements that the vice president is alleged to have made, and have yet to see the damning evidence that Dick Cheney misled the American public.

December 9, 2001:

RUSSERT: The plane on the ground in Iraq used to train non-Iraqi hijackers.

Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?

[in a previous appearance on MTP, the Sunday following 9/11, when directly asked if there was evidence that Iraq had a part in 9/11, Cheney flat out said “No.” So much for the theory that since day one the Bushies had war in Iraq on their collective minds- wordsmith]

CHENEY: Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that’s been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.

Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don’t know at this point. But that’s clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.

RUSSERT: What we do know is that Iraq is harboring terrorists. This was from Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post that George W. Bush said that Abdul Ramini Yazen (ph), who helped bomb the World Trade Center back in 1993, according to Louis Freeh was hiding in his native Iraq. And we’ll show that right there on the screen. That’s an exact quote.

If they’re harboring terrorist, why not go in and get them?

CHENEY: Well, the evidence is pretty conclusive that the Iraqis have indeed harbored terrorists. That wasn’t the question you asked the last time we met. You asked about evidence involved in September 11.

MTP 3/24/02:

VICE PRES. CHENEY: With respect to the connections to al-Qaida, we haven’t been able to pin down any connection there. I read this report with interest after our interview last fall. We discovered, and it’s since been public, the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, but we’ve not been able yet from our perspective to nail down a close tie between the al-Qaida organization and Saddam Hussein. We’ll continue to look for it.

MTP 9/08/02:

Mr. RUSSERT: One year ago when you were on MEET THE PRESS just five days after September 11, I asked you a specific question about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Let’s watch:

(Videotape, September 16, 2001):

Mr. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?


(End videotape)

Mr. RUSSERT: Has anything changed, in your mind?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I want to be very careful about how I say this. I’m not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can’t say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. We’ve seen in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center. The debates about, you know, was he there or wasn’t he there, again, it’s the intelligence business.

Mr. RUSSERT: What does the CIA say about that and the president?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: It’s credible. But, you know, I think a way to put it would be it’s unconfirmed at this point. We’ve got…

Mr. RUSSERT: Anything else?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: There is-again, I want to separate out 9/11, from the other relationships between Iraq and the al-Qaeda organization. But there is a pattern of relationships going back many years. And in terms of exchanges and in terms of people, we’ve had recently since the operations in Afghanistan-we’ve seen al-Qaeda members operating physically in Iraq and off the territory of Iraq. We know that Saddam Hussein has, over the years, been one of the top state sponsors of terrorism for nearly 20 years. We’ve had this recent weird incident where the head of the Abu Nidal organization, one of the world’s most noted terrorists, was killed in Baghdad. The announcement was made by the head of Iraqi intelligence. The initial announcement said he’d shot himself. When they dug into that, though, he’d shot himself four times in the head. And speculation has been, that, in fact, somehow, the Iraqi government or Saddam Hussein had him eliminated to avoid potential embarrassment by virtue of the fact that he was in Baghdad and operated in Baghdad. So it’s a very complex picture to try to sort out.


Mr. RUSSERT: But no direct link?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I can’t-I’ll leave it right where it’s at. I don’t want to go beyond that. I’ve tried to be cautious and restrained in my comments, and I hope that everybody will recognize that.

Timelines are important. And it’s one of those things that Bush-haters conveniently ignore when they criticize a statement made in the past, based upon the best available information at the time, and “debunk” it, with more recent information that makes the old beliefs obsolete.


Bush, in his speeches, did not say directly that Hussein was culpable in the Sept. 11 attacks. But he frequently juxtaposed Iraq and al Qaeda in ways that hinted at a link. In a March speech about Iraq’s “weapons of terror,” Bush said: “If the world fails to confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force, even as a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001, showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction.”

Then, in declaring the end of major combat in Iraq on May 1, Bush linked Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 — and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men — the shock troops of a hateful ideology — gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions.”

Moments later, Bush added: “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We’ve removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th — the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got.”

Again, I believe this is merely a failure on the part of those not paying attention (as well as the fault of the Administration for not communicating better, to the American public, what our war strategy was) and understanding that the connection between the events of September 11th and Iraq, as put forth by the Bush Administration, is one of dealing with stopping the next terror attack. Not going solely and surgically after those involved directly with planning and carrying out 9/11, but with taking a “zero tolerance” approach to dealing with not only those engaged in committing terrorist acts, but also in going after those who train, finance, support, and provide safe-haven for Islamic extremist terrorists.

A number of nongovernment officials close to the Bush administration have made the link more directly. Richard N. Perle, who until recently was chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, long argued that there was Iraqi involvement, calling the evidence “overwhelming.”

Ah, yes….Richard Perle is one of those neocon boogeymen, along with Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. According to David Brooks,

the people labeled neocons (con is short for “conservative” and neo is short for “Jewish”) travel in widely different circles and don’t actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle’s insidious power over administration policy, but I’ve been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he’s shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.

It’s true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently. Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn’t know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. (If you ever read a sentence that starts with “Neocons believe,” there is a 99.44 percent chance everything else in that sentence will be untrue.)

As a civilian advisor to the Defense Department (Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee), Perle doesn’t even count as an administration employee. I do admit, that there have been those like Perle and Wolfowitz who had at one time made mention of the possibilities of an operational connection, and/or a Saddam involvement or perhaps pre-knowledge of the 9/11 plot; and also those like Laurie Mylroie who pushed the angle hard; but at no time did the speculation ever become part of official Administration rhetoric when presenting its case to the American public:

Discussing the secretary’s [Wolfowitz] comments on MSNBC on Friday, Tanenhaus [Vanity Fair] said that the reason Saddam’s role in 9/11 never became the centerpiece of the Bush administration’s rationale for war was because there was no consensus on the issue.

Here’s a full context response by Wolfowitz during Tanenhaus’ Vanity Fair interview:

TANENHAUS: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden’s rage about that, which he’s built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there’s a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into–

WOLFOWITZ: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but . . . there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there’s a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. . . . The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it’s not a reason to put American kids’ lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there’s the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we’ve arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his U.N. presentation.


Some Democrats said that although Bush did not make the direct link to the 2001 attacks, his implications helped to turn the public fury over Sept. 11 into support for war against Iraq. “You couldn’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein,” said Democratic tactician Donna Brazile. “Every member of the administration did the drumbeat. My mother said if you repeat a lie long enough, it becomes a gospel truth. This one became a gospel hit.”

The only lie repeated for the last 5 years, has been the narrative spun by the media into “gospel truth”: “Bush lied, people died”.

In a speech Aug. 7, former vice president Al Gore cited Hussein’s culpability in the attacks as one of the “false impressions” given by a Bush administration making a “systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology.”

Gore is all hot air and zero credibility. Next

Finally, WaPo cuts through the feldercarb:

Bush’s defenders say the administration’s rhetoric was not responsible for the public perception of Hussein’s involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. While Hussein and al Qaeda come from different strains of Islam and Hussein’s secularism is incompatible with al Qaeda fundamentalism, Americans instinctively lump both foes together as Middle Eastern enemies. “The intellectual argument is there is a war in Iraq and a war on terrorism and you have to separate them, but the public doesn’t do that,” said Matthew Dowd, a Bush campaign strategist. “They see Middle Eastern terrorism, bad people in the Middle East, all as one big problem.”

A number of public-opinion experts agreed that the public automatically blamed Iraq, just as they would have blamed Libya if a similar attack had occurred in the 1980s. There is good evidence for this: On Sept. 13, 2001, a Time/CNN poll found that 78 percent suspected Hussein’s involvement — even though the administration had not made a connection. The belief remained consistent even as evidence to the contrary emerged.

“You can say Bush should be faulted for not correcting every single misapprehension, but that’s something different than saying they set out deliberately to deceive,” said Duke University political scientist Peter D. Feaver. “Since the facts are all over the place, Americans revert to a judgment: Hussein is a bad guy who would do stuff to us if he could.”

To me, the above is at the heart of why so many Americans believe(d), in 2003, there was a connection between Saddam and 9/11. Compound that with confusion on what exactly is meant by “connection”, as one can read that multiple ways; and I’m sure some of those Americans who have been polled on this question, probably responded from an informed perspective. It all depends on how one interprets the question.

Key administration figures have largely abandoned any claim that Iraq was involved in the 2001 attacks. “I’m not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it,” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, a leading hawk on Iraq, said on the Laura Ingraham radio show on Aug. 1.

A top White House official told The Washington Post on July 31: “I don’t believe that the evidence was there to suggest that Iraq had played a direct role in 9/11.” The official added: “Anything is possible, but we hadn’t ruled it in or ruled it out. There wasn’t evidence to substantiate that claim.”

But the public continues to embrace the connection.

The general public seems to embrace a good many things that are not grounded in the facts; so I’m not at all that surprised.

This article and the polls were conducted in 2003. Today, I wonder how many Americans would respond informatively, when asked, “Were there any connections between Saddam’s Iraq and al-Qaeda?” Apparently, it doesn’t even take a 9/11-Truther to think this sort of kay-rap. (Osama and Zawahiri must be pissed).

I would suspect, due to the media and talking heads drumbeat, that most Americans would say there weren’t any connections. And they’d be incorrect. And because so many people, informed and otherwise, put forth the strawman, “Saddam didn’t have anything to do with 9/11”, I bet if you polled the average American (and global citizen) with the question, “Did President Bush say Saddam had something to do with 9/11?”, most would answer “yes”, with the interpretation of the question to mean that President Bush said/stated/implied/insinuated/suggested that Saddam had a hand in orchestrating the events of 9/11.

More good stuff:

In follow-up interviews, poll respondents were generally unsure why they believed Hussein was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, often describing it as an instinct that came from news reports and their long-standing views of Hussein. For example, Peter Bankers, 59, a New York film publicist, figures his belief that Hussein was behind the attacks “has probably been fed to me in some PR way,” but he doesn’t know how. “I think that the whole group of people, those with anti-American feelings, they all kind of cooperated with each other,” he said.

Similarly, Kim Morrison, 32, a teacher from Plymouth, Ind., described her belief in Hussein’s guilt as a “gut feeling” shaped by television. “From what we’ve heard from the media, it seems like what they feel is that Saddam and the whole al Qaeda thing are connected,” she said.

Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University professor of linguistics who has studied Bush’s rhetoric, said it is impossible to know but “plausible” that Bush’s words furthered such public impressions. “Clearly, he’s using language to imply a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11th,” she said.

“There is a specific manipulation of language here to imply a connection.” Bush, she said, seems to imply that in Iraq “we have gone to war with the terrorists who attacked us.”

Tannen said even a gentle implication would be enough to reinforce Americans’ feelings about Hussein. “If we like the conclusion, we’re much less critical of the logic,” she said.

The Post poll, conducted Aug. 7-11, found that 62 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents suspected a link between Hussein and 9/11. In addition, eight in 10 Americans said it was likely that Hussein had provided assistance to al Qaeda, and a similar proportion suspected he had developed weapons of mass destruction.

Now, having just read the last few paragraphs alone, you’d think some people would come away from the article with the relevant information (which I emboldened). Yet there are plenty of kool-aid drinkers out there, who will read this piece and others like it, and will walk away from it, (mis)citing it, as supporting the notion that Bush said Saddam responsible for 9/11 and “Bush lied, people died”.

Partisans and BDS sufferers really need to develop better comprehension skills.

As well as get a grip on reality.

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