House majority leader: Saddam had WMD and a supporting role in 9/11

If it's 2006, why is John Boehner still making the 2002 case for war?

Published September 28, 2006 12:59PM (EDT)

Thirty-four House Democrats crossed over to support the Bush administration's detainee legislation Wednesday, but it wasn't enough for House Majority Leader John Boehner. "It is outrageous that House Democrats, at the urging of their leaders, continue to oppose giving President Bush the tools he needs to protect our country," Boehner says.

Outrageous? Try this.

In an appearance on "Hardball" just after the vote -- an appearance in which he said that "virtually every Democrat" voted against the White House plan -- Boehner defended the war in Iraq by arguing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and at least an "indirect" role in 9/11.

"To think that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction is pure lunacy," Boehner told Chris Matthews. "He had them. What did he do with them? We don't know." We don't need to say this, but apparently we do: After a two-year search, the Iraq Survey Group concluded that Saddam had no WMD at the time the U.S. invaded and found no evidence that he had transferred such weapons to Syria, the "he must have hidden them" theory of choice for many of the true believers.

Boehner was a little more circumspect on his claim that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in 9/11, but he made it nonetheless. He acknowledged that Saddam didn't have a "direct" role in 9/11 but insisted that he did play a "supportive role" by supporting terrorist training camps in Iraq. The Senate Intelligence Committee has found no evidence that Saddam had any ties to al-Qaida, and George W. Bush has acknowledged that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Matthews asked Boehner if he was really asserting that Saddam was "in league with" al-Qaida before the attacks. "He was providing cover for them, yes," Boehner said.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq John Boehner R-ohio Middle East