White House Press Secretary Tony Snow returned to the job this morning and hit the ground running. In his first interview with CBS’s Early Show, Snow declared that the White House never tried to link Iraq and September 11.
Snow was asked about former CIA Director George Tenet’s remarks from 60 Minutes:
TENET: We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction, and control, complicity with al Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America. Period.
Snow responded, “Wait a minute, Chris. The president has been saying exactly that all along. I don’t know what the headline is.” He insisted “there has been no attempt to try to link Saddam to September 11.”
In fact, the supposed Iraq-al Qaeda links formed the basis of the administration’s rationale for war. Here’s what the resolution authorizing force against Iraq said:
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq
Snow also claimed today that President Bush “made it clear before the State of the Union in 2002 that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and September 11.” Here’s Bush during his major Iraq policy speech, just prior to Congress’ vote on the Iraq authorization in Oct. 2002:
We know that Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network share a common enemy: the United States of America. We know that Iraq and Al Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.
Q. The message is clear– the administration was not straight with Americans, not about W.M.D.’S, not about 9/11. There it is from the former C.I.A. Chief. Is it time for the administration to come clean, Tony?
TONY SNOW: Wait a minute, Chris. The president has been saying exactly that all along. I don’t know what the headline is. As a matter of fact, I can remember right after September 11 sitting here when I was a journalist and some of your colleagues, I believe Charlie Gibson may have been there at the time as well. The fact is the president made it clear before the State of the Union in 2002 that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and September 11. So Im afraid what’s happened there is that George Tenet may have been referring to something that has been misreported or at least twisted by people with political motives, but there has been no attempt to try to link Saddam to September 11.