In a stunning display of historical revisionism, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace argued this morning that President Bush never tried to link al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein:
[T]hat specific quote there where you say he couldn’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, he wasn’t saying that they were linked at all. He was saying one was as bad as the other, and when he said in that same answer something about that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist network, he wasn’t saying that they would like to use al Qaeda. So you’re making a link there that the President never made.
Wallace focused on a single statement President Bush made on September 25, 2002. (“[Y]ou can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.”) But that statement was part of a series of statements that intentionally and explicitly linked Saddam and al Qaeda in the lead up to war. For example, this statement by Bush on February 8, 2003:
Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases.
Virtually none of that was true. The administration’s hand picked weapons inspector, David Kay, concluded “We simply did not find any evidence of extensive links with Al Qaeda, or for that matter any real links at all.” But to pretend that President Bush never made an effort to link Saddam and al-Qaeda is incredibly irresponsible, even for Fox.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video.
UPDATE II: Low on the Hog catalogues all the times Bush linked Saddam and al-Qaeda.