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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Iraq and 9/11, continued

I know the blogosphere is focusing on the California recall (Daily Kos), the Plame affair (Josh Marshall) -- even Nobel prize rumors (Brad DeLong).

However, I'm still interested in Iraq.

Several weeks ago, I noted the Washington Post article that reported the odd fact that 70% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11.

There was something weird in this and other stories and I finally figured out what it is. Milbank and Deane go to great lengths to quote various public statements by the President when he talked about 9/11 and Iraq in the same breath. Thus, they argue, he was implicitly linking these stories.

What Milbank and Deane don't report, and I haven't seen this elsewhere either, is that the Washington Post's Bob Woodward played a significant role in making the now discredited connection. His articles for the Post, and his book Bush At War, quoted Bush extensively (so he obviously had high level access to someone).

Woodwad at the Post , in fact, quoted Bush (back on February 1, 2002) as saying this on September 17, 2001:

"I believe Iraq was involved, but I'm not going to strike them now."

Of course, the next clause is:

"I don't have the evidence at this point."

Obviously, I have no idea whether Bush said this on September 17, 2001, or not. Do I believe Woodward? Alternatively, was this someone's political spin months later, in order to influence US foreign policy after finishing in Afghanistan? Someone like Wolfowitz, for instance, could have been spinning to get the war he really wanted (and Woodward establishes those wishes in the 8 part newspaper series -- and the book, I guess, though I haven't read it).

By quoting the President, the Post made it possible for other news sources and "experts" to keep repeating the claim. For example, Laurie Mylroie ("there he goes again") quoted this exact same sentence in a piece she wrote that spouted her own conspiracy theories about Iraq and 9/11. You can read about those here and here.

I should note that Mylroie leaves out the President's caveat -- he had no evidence. She has her own perspective about evidence, after all.

I've learned, by the way, that Rupert Murdoch (who owns Fox and News Corporation and published the latest edition of Mylroie's book about the Iraq terror link. Given that information, this story is particularly delicious. And I remind you that Mylroie appeared on Fox again and again and again in fall 2001, spewing her claims about Iraq and 9/11.

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