HOW'S THAT AGAIN?
President Bush said Wednesday, flat out, that there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had anything to do with Sept. 11.
Now he tells us.
The president's defenders can of course correctly point out that Mr. Bush has never actually claimed otherwise. But there is such a thing as fostering an impression, and over the past year the White House has so assiduously invoked Sept. 11 whenever warning about Iraq's intentions, or crowing about Iraq's defeat, that no one could fail to grasp that there was an underlying message: American troops had to fight their way into Baghdad because American citizens perished in the attacks of two years ago.
As recently as last Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney was talking about Iraq as the "geographic base" of terrorists who have been targeting America, "most especially on 9/11."
That's just wrong. And when the president was asked about it three days later, he finally conceded as much. He did argue that the now-defunct Iraqi regime nevertheless had links to al-Qaida. Let's respond this way: The jury's still out on that one.
Now, does it matter that Mr. Hussein was not connected to Sept. 11? A recent poll found that 70 percent of Americans thought he did have a hand in it, but is that so important? After all, Mr. Bush explicitly made the point, in the State of the Union address and elsewhere, that the Iraqi regime was capable of giving its weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaida terrorists - so, whatever may have happened before, the important thing was to forestall attacks in the future. Forget history. Just change the regime.
The fly in the ointment here is that - well, there was no fly. For the past five months, the 1,500 experts of the Iraq Survey Group have been busily looking for signs of weapons of mass destruction there, and they are coming up with almost nothing. They reportedly have no solid evidence that Iraq possessed biological or chemical weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion.
Hans Blix, the chief of the U.N. weapons inspectors, told Australian radio this week that, based on what's been found, he's now convinced that Iraq destroyed all its unconventional weapons a decade ago - but wouldn't admit it.
merican troops suffered more casualties outside Baghdad yesterday. And why are they there? Will the commander in chief come clean?
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