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The Alternate Universe of Conservatives

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Republican Congressman Robin Hayes (R-NC) told CNN that the “evidence is clear” that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11,” Hayes told CNN on June 29.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, “I’m sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places.”

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.

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It may sound bizarre, but Hayes is only repeating thoughts expressed by a loud minority of true believers in the right-wing universe. Why? Because of statements made by President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

The administration, in large part to justify our war in Iraq, has long tried to link Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

Cheney, on the Sept. 14, 2003, edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, said: “We learn more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the ’90s, that it involved training, for example, on [biological and chemical weapons], that Al Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems.”

In January of 2004, Cheney, during an interview on National Public Radio, added: “I continue to believe. I think there’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government.”

Even after the bipartisan 9/11 Commission came out with its report — which should have ended any talk among conservatives of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link — President Bush told reporters covering a June 16, 2004 cabinet meeting: “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.”

What are true believers like Hayes to do?

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And what did the 9/11 Commission report? The 520-page report said investigators found no evidence that any “contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship.”

The commission’s staff report said that bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq” while in Sudan through 1996, but that “Iraq apparently never responded” to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.”

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Nevertheless, Hayes insisted that the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam and “folks who work for him” has been seen “time and time again.”

He’s a true believer — willing to put aside facts in favor of the stated opinions of Bush and Cheney.

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This article first appeared on Journalists Against Bush’s B.S. (JABBS)

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About David R. Mark