Roughly half of U.S. adults are woefully misinformed on ties among Iraq, Al Qaeda, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a new Harris Poll.
According to the poll, released today:
-- Only 46% said they knew the following statement to be not true: "Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001." Another 30% weren't sure, and 22% believed the statement to be true.
-- Only 42% said they knew the following statement to be not true: "Several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11 were Iraqis." Another 31% weren't sure, and 24% believed the statement to be true.
-- Only 33% said they knew the following statement to be not true: "Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda." Another 24% were not sure, and an amazing 41% believed the statement to be true.
In other words, on three key questions regarding ties between Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11, a majority of Americans either are completely misinformed, or unsure of the truth — and thus open to misinformation.
How can this be? The 10-member bipartisan 9/11 Commission last year found "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks against the U.S.
Specifically, the report says on page 66 that there was “no evidence” of any collaborative relationship between Saddam and 9/11 and no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with al Qaeda in “developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.”
And yet, people are misinformed, or unsure of the truth?
Let's start with the lengthy number of high-profile speeches from senior Bush Administration officials to make the case connecting Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11. Consider this, this, this, and this from 2002 and 2003.
But that's old hat. How can people still be so unclear of the issues, four years after the terrorist attacks and roughly 18 months after the 9/11 Commission's report?
I blame the mysterious "they."
As JABBS has written before, President Bush often talks about the mysterious "they" when talking about the "war on terror." He mixes and matches events involving Al Qaeda and those involving the Iraqi insurgency, blending them as "they" or "them," discussing "their objectives," as if Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency thought as one.
By doing so, Bush simultaneously justifies the Iraq War as part of the greater "war on terror," and (perhaps inadvertently) fuels the right-wing mythmakers who hope someday to find proof tying together Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11.
In a national address in June, for example, Bush said this: