Cheney Cited Iraq Intelligence That Was Known To Be False

One of the given rationales for attacking Iraq was that Saddam was linked to the 9-11 hijackers through a claim that Mohammad Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in April 2001 before the attacks. The supposed Prague meeting was advanced by former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, using evidence obtained from the Czech government. But according to the FBI, Atta was in Virginia Beach at the time. The Czech government later backed off its claims, but Vice President Cheney stuck to it. In December 2001, Cheney said:

“Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that–it’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.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 12/9/01]

Now we know that through a recently-disclosed British paper, the Bush administration had doubts about whether the Prague meeting did in fact occur. In the 3/18/02 memo, former British Ambassador Christopher Meyer said Paul Wolfowitz told him “there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?).”

The new evidence indicates that Cheney had reason to believe that his claims of a “pretty well confirmed” meeting were in fact not confirmed at all.