CBS News has learned that barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.
Sept. 16, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he had no reason to believe that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had a hand in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld was asked about a poll that indicated nearly 70 percent of respondents believed the Iraqi leader probably was personally involved.
“I’ve not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that,” Rumsfeld said.
Somebody needs to compile a list of all the times Rumsfeld has hinted that Iraq was involved in 9/11. (You out there, Billmon?)
(Update) Condi chimes in:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday the Bush administration had never accused Saddam Hussein of directing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Her statement, in an interview recorded for broadcast on ABC’s “Nightline,” came despite long-standing administration charges the ousted Iraqi leader was linked to the al Qaeda network accused of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Democrats have accused the administration of creating a “false impression” at the heart of a widespread U.S. public belief that Saddam had a personal role in the attacks.
“We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein … had either direction or control of 9/11,” Rice said when asked about the public perception of a link.