Bush "digging into facts" about Iran

Published July 19, 2004 8:19PM (EDT)

When the 9/11 commission issues its report later this week, not only will the bipartisan panel's unanimously approved findings undermine even more the White House claim of an al-Qaida/Iraq connection, the report will, even more embarrassing for the president, provide evidence that Iran did offer aid and comfort to the 9/11 hijackers -- and generally had a much more suspicious relationship to al-Qaida than Saddam Hussein did. Amid continued violence in Iraq -- Just today: another car bombing and an assassination -- additional proof that the Iraq war is a disaster the U.S. needed not have provoked should put Bush even more on the defensive.

Perhaps that's why he responded to a question about the Iran connection today by saying Iran has been high on his list of concerns "ever since I've been the President." What has so concerned Bush about Iran is its support of al-Qaida and continued nuclear program, he said - language that resembles his now-debunked rationale for invading Iraq. As for what his administration is doing about these new reports about Iran: "We're digging into the facts," Bush said.

As the Iran connection gets flushed out, with Osama bin Laden still at-large and after more than 900 U.S. lives have been lost in Iraq, convincing Americans that the administration's priorities were correctly aligned after 9/11 arguably will be Bush and Cheney's greatest challenge between now and November. Bush's claim that he's now "digging into the facts" probably won't cut it with the nearly 80 percent of Americans who already think he was less than truthful about the war.

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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