This was from the Bush speech in Ohio the other day:
Q Mr. President, at the beginning of your talk today you mentioned that you understand why Americans have had their confidence shaken by the events in Iraq. And I'd like to ask you about events that occurred three years ago that might also explain why confidence has been shaken. Before we went to war in Iraq we said there were three main reasons for going to war in Iraq: weapons of mass destruction, the claim that Iraq was sponsoring terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11, and that Iraq had purchased nuclear materials from Niger. All three of those turned out to be false. My question is, how do we restore confidence that Americans may have in their leaders and to be sure that the information they are getting now is correct?
THE PRESIDENT: That's a great question. (Applause.) First, just if I might correct a misperception. I don't think we ever said -- at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein. We did say that he was a state sponsor of terror.
GOI: True, he never said that there was a direct connection but he has said as much so to connect the too in the public's mind. Remember this?:
"The use of armed forces against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations [Iraq], organizations [al-Qaeda] or person [Osama bin Laden] who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." [President George W. Bush, Letter to Congress, 3/21/03]
GOI: Think about this section from an article written in 2003 right before the start of the Iraq War:
WASHINGTON – In his prime-time press conference last week, which focused almost solely on Iraq, President Bush mentioned Sept. 11 eight times. He referred to Saddam Hussein many more times than that, often in the same breath with Sept. 11.
GOI: If Bush wasn't trying to connect Saddam Hussein and 9/11 then why did he mention the two so much and often in the same breath? Hmmm???
Bush never pinned blame for the attacks directly on the Iraqi president. Still, the overall effect was to reinforce an impression that persists among much of the American public: that the Iraqi dictator did play a direct role in the attacks. A New York Times/CBS poll this week shows that 45 percent of Americans believe Mr. Hussein was "personally involved" in Sept. 11, about the same figure as a month ago.
Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding Al Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression, as it seeks to maintain American support for a possible war against Iraq and demonstrate seriousness of purpose to Hussein's regime.
"The administration has succeeded in creating a sense that there is some connection [between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein]," says Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
In the end, will it matter if some Americans have meshed together Sept. 11 and Iraq? If the US and its allies go to war against Iraq, and it goes well, then the Bush administration is likely not to face questions about the way it sold the war. But if war and its aftermath go badly, then the administration could be under fire.
"Going to war with improper public understanding is risky," says Richard Parker, a former US ambassador to several Mideast countries. "If it's a failure, and we get bogged down, this is one of the accusations that [Bush] will have to face when it's all over."
GOI: You'd have to be an idiot not to realize that Bush was trying to connect Saddam Hussein and the attacks on September the 11th to whip up support for his war.
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