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Cheney link of Iraq, 9/11 challenged

Vice President Dick Cheney, anxious to defend the White House foreign policy amid ongoing violence in Iraq, stunned intelligence analysts and even members of his own administration this week by failing to dismiss a widely discredited claim: that Saddam Hussein might have played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks. Evidence of a connection, if any exists, has never been made public. Details that Cheney cited to make the case that the Iraqi dictator had ties to Al Qaeda have been dismissed by the CIA as having no basis, according to analysts and officials. Even before the war in Iraq, most Bush officials did not explicitly state that Iraq had a part in the attack on the United States two years ago. But Cheney left that possibility wide open in a nationally televised interview two days ago, claiming that the administration is learning “more and more” about connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq before the Sept. 11 attacks. The statement surprised some analysts and officials who have reviewed intelligence reports from Iraq. Democrats sharply attacked him for exaggerating the threat Iraq posed before the war. “There is no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11,” Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat running for president, said in an interview last night. “There was no such relationship.” Full Story

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