Bush’s big ‘admission’

Guardian headline:Bush: Saddam was not responsible for 9/11

George Bush last night admitted that Saddam Hussein had no hand in the 9/11 terror attacks, but he asked Americans to support a war in Iraq that he said was the defining struggle of our age.

….The president conceded some crucial ideological ground, formally disavowing the neo-conservative accusation that Saddam had played a role in the attacks on September 11 2001. But he was unapologetic about the decision to invade Iraq.

“I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks,” Mr Bush said. “The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress, and the United Nations saw the threat – and after 9/11, Saddam’s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take.

….The admission that Saddam had no connection to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon was a departure for a president who is famously averse to any expression of regret.

I still can’t quite believe I’ve read that in a serious newspaper. This is supposed to be news? An admission from Bush?

Here is a story from USA Today, dated September 17th 2003:

We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th” attacks,” Bush said in a brief encounter with reporters after a meeting with members of Congress. Bush added, “There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda ties.”

The president’s remark followed a comment Tuesday by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who said he saw no evidence that Saddam was involved in the attacks. “I’ve not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that,” Rumsfeld said.

That was three years ago.

Read the reports and it is VP Dick Cheney who stands accused of making the link, of claiming that Saddam had a role in 9-11. I haven’t been able to find any evidence (on google) of any other senior figure in the Bush administration making such a claim. So what exactly did Cheney say?

He was asked about a report that Sept 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague.

Cheney, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” cited the report of the meeting as possible evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link and said it was neither confirmed nor discredited, saying

“We’ve never been able to develop any more of that yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.”

And that is it. That is the “neo-con accusation”.

The Guardian story in a nutshell: Bush has once again ‘admitted’ that something he and his administration never said, wasn’t the case.