IRAQ AND 9/11
Cheney said he has "not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." But in numerous interviews, Cheney has skated close to the line in ways that may have certainly left that impression on viewers, usually when he cited the possibility that Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, met with an Iraqi official -- even after that theory was largely discredited.
On Dec. 9, 2001, Cheney said on NBC's "Meet The Press" that "it's been pretty well confirmed that [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack." On March 24, 2002, Cheney again told NBC, "We discovered . . . the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague."
On Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney, again on "Meet the Press," said that Atta "did apparently travel to Prague. . . . We have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer a few months before the attacks on the World Trade Center."
And a year ago, also on "Meet the Press," Cheney described Iraq as part of "the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11."
In the debate, Cheney referred to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as having "an established relationship with al Qaeda" and said then-CIA Director George J. Tenet talked about "a 10-year relationship" in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. What Tenet cited were several "high-level contacts" over a 10-year period, but he also said the agency reported they never led to any cooperative activity.
For The Record: Few Factual Errors, but Truth at Times Got Stretched (Washington Post, Oct. 1)