Republicans are still protesting President Obama’s nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to the position of Secretary of Defense, despite the failure of a weeks-long campaign to discredit Hagel’s record. On Monday, Iraq veteran and freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) accused Hagel, a fellow veteran, of voting against the military and changing his stance on the Iraq War because of its unpopularity. After initially supporting the war, Hagel became an outspoken critic of the Iraq War and the Bush administration in general.
When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer confronted the new Congressman with the fact that much of the information justifying the war turned out to be false, Cotton suggested that Iraq may have had a hand in the terrorist attacks on 9/11:
BLITZER: But you don’t believe that Iraq had anything to do with al Qaeda or the attack on 9/11?
COTTON: The evidence is inconclusive there, but I know that Saddam Hussein was widely believed by all western intelligence agencies, not just the United States, but western European countries not in a rush to war, to have weapons of mass destruction. Our sanctions regime was beginning to crumble and we couldn’t be able to contain Saddam Hussein if we hadn’t confronted him at the time.
BLITZER: With hindsight, he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, didn’t have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. All the commissions point out he had nothing to do with the attack on 9/11, and he was being contained by the U.S. and the international community.
The Bush administration insisted both that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was working with al Qaeda before launching the Iraq War. However, the 9/11 Commission concluded in 2004 that no link existed between Iraq and al Qaeda or the attacks. A decade later, Cotton is perpetuating a soundly discredited myth that even former president George W. Bush no longer believes.