Last night, convicted felon Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) faced Anchorage mayor and Senate candidate Mark Begich in their last debate before Tuesday’s election. During the debate, Stevens twice insisted that he had “not been convicted of anything” — though, of course, he was found guilty of all seven counts of making false statements on his Senate disclosure forms.
Waving away his conviction wasn’t Stevens’ only bizarre moment in the debate. Discussing Iraq, Stevens insisted that Saddam Hussein had played a role in the 9/11 attacks:
MODERATOR: Knowing what you know now, do you think that the country of Iraq and Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attack on the United States?
STEVENS: I know more than you think I know, and I believe they did.
BEGICH: I don’t believe they did.
Perhaps Stevens is taking a cue from Cheney in doubling down on insisting a link existed between Iraq and 9/11. He wants Alaskans to believe he knows something they don’t, but it’s Stevens whose facts are wrong:
— The Sept. 11 commission found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda and said there was “no cooperation” between the two. [6/17/04]
— A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Saddam Hussein issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with al Qaeda, and found that the Iraqi regime never attempted to facilitate a relationship with bin Ladin. [9/10/06]
— A Pentagon report looking into ties between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda showed no connection between the two, after reviewing 600,000 Iraqi documents. [3/13/08]
What’s more, the White House knew that its repeated claims of collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda were unfounded. A recent book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind claimed that, after the Iraq war began, the White House ordered the CIA to forge a “backdated, handwritten letter” from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein, in an attempt to tie Hussein to the 9/11 attacks.
UPDATE: Watch video of Stevens’ comments here: