Sunday, March 21, 2004

Arlen Specter Lies to the American People

From the campaign of Joe Hoeffel:

PHILADELPHIA, PA: On CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, Sen. Arlen Specter told America that the Bush Administration NEVER CLAIMED a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

“I hope that Mr. Specter just wasn’t listening to his friends in the Bush Administration, because it would be simply incredible if he was willing to go on national television and lie for them,” Hoeffel spokesman Tom Hickey said today.

Specter Claim:

Ø “The Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.” – Senator Arlen Specter, 3/21/04

Bush Administration Claims:

Ø “You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam.” – President Bush, 9/25/02

Ø “There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” – President Bush, 9/17/03

Ø "There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident that there was an established relationship there." - Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04

Ø “There was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.” – Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03

Ø "Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven opportunities in Iraq, reciprocal nonaggression discussions." – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 9/26/02

Ø "There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented." – National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, 9/25/02



Full text of the exchange on CNN’s Late Edition from March 22, 2004:

BLITZER: Well, the 9/11 commission, Senator Specter and Senator Rockefeller, will be hearing testimony this coming week from Clinton administration officials, potentially significant testimony from the former secretary of state, the former national security adviser.

But Richard Clarke also writes this in his new book. He writes: "I think they wanted to believe there was a connection" -- referring to Bush administration officials -- "a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We have looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked for a connection, and there's just no connection. There's absolutely no evidence Iraq was supporting al Qaeda.'"

You're the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Was there evidence -- and you brought in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, that name just a little while ago, widely associated with Ansar al-Islam, believed to be associated in some way with al Qaeda. Isn't that a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda?

ROCKEFELLER: No, in that he was up in that Kurdish area, Ansar al-Islam, which was not under the control of Saddam Hussein.

He now has connections with al Qaeda. He might have had temporary connections with al Qaeda then. Now he has a lot of them. In other words, that's what not finding WMD, not finding, you know, terrorism, not finding a variety of things that the president said, this is the reason to go to war...

BLITZER: So your bottom line is, there is no evidence of any serious connection...

ROCKEFELLER: No, only...

BLITZER: ... between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?

ROCKEFELLER: The only -- no, they hated each other.

BLITZER: All right.

What about that, Senator Specter?

SPECTER: I agree with Senator Rockefeller. There had been a lot of talk about one meeting in Eastern Europe, but it never panned out. And the Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. If there had been, if it could have been proved, it would have been dynamite, but there just wasn't any evidence to support it.