Purposeful Power Player

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Rumsfeld: "no hard evidence" of link between Iraq, al-Qaida

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged Monday he has seen no "strong, hard evidence" linking former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with the al-Qaida network, despite describing extensive contacts between the two before the Iraq invasion.

"To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two," Rumsfeld said in a question-and-answer session before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

He said there were differences in the intelligence community asto what the relationship was.

The so-called connection between terrorism and the Saddam regime was one of the key reasons the United States cited for its launching of the war on Iraq in March 2003.

Last month, Rumsfeld claimed that the United States had "credible" information that al-Qaida and Iraq had discussed safe havens and non-aggression agreements, and that al-Qaida leaders had sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons ofmass destruction.

On whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the war,Rumsfeld said flatly Monday that intelligence about such weapons before the invasion was faulty -- a markedly different statement from what he said in a television interview just a day earlier.

"It turns out that we have not found weapons of mass destruction," Rumsfeld said.

"Why the intelligence proved wrong I'm not in a position to say,but the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail," headded.

In an interview aired Sunday on the Fox News Channel, Rumsfeld said he believed the Saddam regime had weapons of mass destructionbefore the war, and the truth may unfold over months or years.

"I believe they were there, and I'm surprised we have not foundthem yet," Rumsfeld said in the TV interview.

Somebody explain that to families of those troops that have died. Just pitifull. And people who support the republican ticket think that's okay...stay the course of our troops being picked off one by one.

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