Let's put the evidence on the table first. The following are all from the official press releases at www.whitehouse.gov/.State Of The Union Address, January 28, 2003Evidence 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. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own. Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein.President's Radio Address, February 8, 2003One of the greatest dangers we face is that weapons of mass destruction might be passed to terrorists who would not hesitate to use those weapons. Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad.Remarks by the President at the 2003 Republican Retreat Reception, February 9, 2003 The issue facing our nation and the world is the extension of the war on terror to places like Iraq. Prior to September the 11th, there was apparently no connection between a place like Iraq and terror. Oh, sure, he had run some terrorist networks out of his country, and that was of concern to us. But it was very difficult to link a terrorist network and Saddam Hussein to the American soil. As a matter of fact, it was very difficult to link any attack on the American soil, because prior to September the 11th, we were confident that two oceans could protect us from harm...And therefore, when we hear of stories about weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a brutal dictator, who hates America, we need to take that seriously, and we are. And when we find out there's links between Baghdad and a killer who actually ordered the killing of one of our fellow citizens, we've got to realize the -- what that means to our future. President Bush: Monday "Moment of Truth" for World on Iraq, Azores, Portugal, March 16, 2003But it's important for the U.N. to be able to function well if we're going to keep the peace. And I will work hard to see to it that at least from our perspective, that the U.N. is able to be -- able to be a responsibility body, and when it says something, it means it, for the sake of peace and for the sake of the security, for the capacity to win the war of -- the first war of the 21st century, which is the war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of dictators.President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours, March 17, 2003Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.
The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.
The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.
Now before we look at what the President has to say today, I would have you ask one serious question.
Would any ordinary person, listening or reading the above words of George W. Bush, be led to believe that Saddam Hussein was linked, either directly or by proxy, to the terrorist attack on the United States of 9/11/01?
I think the answer to that question is Yes, and I think it perfectly plain that every last statement above was meant to imply that such a link existed. I think this based on the plain meaning of the plain words without any attempt to overanalyse matters.
This is what the President had to say to Jim Lehrer of PBS
on December 16, 2005:Bush acknowledged on Friday there was no evidence of such a link."There was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the attack of 9/11," Bush said. "I've never said that and never made that case prior to going into Iraq."
But he added that he believed the two issues were related even in the absence of direct ties.
Whether he believed it or not, the President clearly went out of his way to solicit the conclusion from the mind of the American public that Saddam was implicated, directly or indirectly, in the attack of 9/11.
If he could bring himself to say so, to say, "I believed that Saddam could have been involved in 9/11, even though there was no direct evidence of it, and I wanted to convince the public and the world that this was possible," the sky would not fall. In fact, his candor would be welcomed by the fair minded.
The above equivocation enhances the deepening stain of deception that the general public is now beginning to see in Bush's words and his Administration's actions. Partisans like me have seen it for much longer. By now we probably cannot be convinced otherwise.
But what is the President doing now to demonstrate to everybody else that we are wrong?