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Bush backs Cheney on assertion linking Hussein, Al Qaeda

President Bush yesterday defended Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion this week that Saddam Hussein had longstanding ties with Al Qaeda, even as critics charged that the White House had no new proof of a connection.At a news conference with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, Bush stood by his vice president, saying Hussein ”had ties to terrorist organizations,” though he did not specifically mention Al Qaeda. ”I look forward to the debates where people are saying, ‘Oh gosh, the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power,’ ” Bush said. Bush has previously said there was ”no evidence” linking Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but he and other members of his administration have continued to say they believe there were ties between Hussein and Al Qaeda. In a speech to the conservative Madison Institute in Orlando on Monday, Cheney called Hussein ”a patron of terrorism” and said ”he had long established ties with Al Qaeda.” Full Story

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