As the 9/11 commission continues to report in the opposite direction on the issue, the Bush White House continues to insist on a "relationship between" Saddam and al-Qaida, if a bit less specifically than before. If Bush seemed to be on the defensive today -- "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaida," he told reporters -- Vice President Cheney sounded a somewhat different note last fall. In September 2003, when NBC anchor Tim Russert asked Cheney what he thought of the fact that 69 percent of Americans believed Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, Cheney replied, "I think it's not surprising people make that connection." Perhaps that was because Cheney had been suggesting such a connection almost every time he gave a speech.
Indeed, since August 2003, Cheney has given more than 20 speeches at Bush-Cheney '04 fundraisers, wherein he's stated that Saddam "gave support to terrorists" and "had an established relationship with al-Qaida." During one fundraising swing through New York last November, Cheney served up the theme for literally three meals a day to GOP supporters: "In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support and safe harbor to terrorists, and had a relationship with al-Qaida -- and his regime is no more."