On PBS’s Charlie Rose yesterday — six years after the eve of the Iraq invasion — former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice discussed the decision to invade Iraq. Rice said she has had no “second thoughts” about striking the country, and when pressed by Rose on whether Saddam Hussein had connections to 9/11, Rice blankly said that “no one” believed in such a link:
ROSE: But you didn’t believe it had anything to do with 9/11.
RICE: No. No one was arguing that Saddam Hussein somehow had something to do with 9/11.
ROSE: No one.
RICE: I was certainly not. The President was certainly not. … That’s right. We were not arguing that.
Rose also tried to press Rice on whether Cheney pushed the link, but she didn’t answer. Watch it:
Of course, there was no link between Saddam and 9/11. But these supposed ties formed the basis of the administration’s causus belli. A letter from the White House to the House Speaker on March 18, 2003, read:
“(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”
In his book, Bush At War, Bob Woodward noted that Bush said after 9/11, “I believe Iraq was involved, but I’m not going to strike them now.” Rice was no exception either. On Sept. 15, 2002, she said that Saddam had “links to terrorism [that] would include al-Qaeda.” As late as September 2006, she remarked, “there were ties going on between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime going back for a decade.” Cheney still believes there was a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.
In recent weeks, former Bush administration officials have continued to push the link. Bush maintains that he was right to make a false link between Iraq and 9/11. Former press secretary Ari Fleischer said last week, “But after September 11th, having been being hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again?”