It was not evidence that persuaded most Americans that Hussein was involved in 9/11, but a relentless campaign of propaganda and deception, one that continues today.
By Lonna VanHorn
On “Meet the Press” two Sundays ago Dick Cheney implied again that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved with 9/11. This was hardly headline news since the administration, while never stating flatly that Hussein was responsible for 9/11, has implied such a connection for more than two years. In fact, our newest presidential candidate, Wesley Clark, said he received a call the day of September 11th from people “around” the White House telling him he must find a way to link Iraq with the events of that day.
Two days after Cheney “implied connection” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and then the following day President Bush himself, said there was no evidence that Hussein was responsible for the attacks. Rumsfeld and Bush have been no more reticent to imply Hussein’s involvement with 9/11 than has Cheney. One wonders why the backpedaling now?
They still, however, claim a connection between Hussein and al Qaeda. While that was probably untrue before the war, it might very possibly have become true now.
Regardless, it is the implied message of Hussein’s connection to the tragedy of 9/11 which resonates with the American people. Polls indicate nearly 70% of the public believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Why? Could it be because the administration thought this: if Americans held Hussein responsible for 9/11, then they would support a war against Hussein that the administration desperately wanted but the world was overwhelmingly against?
Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, said for propaganda to be effective it should consist of a few phrases repeated over and over again. By all accounts, Karl Rove and Condoleezza Rice are effective propagandists. They knew what to tell the White House speechwriters to solidify this connection between Hussein and 9/11.
In speeches and press conferences given by members of the administration, the words “9/11”, “terrorist”, and “Saddam Hussein” were and still are being used in close proximity to each other. White House speeches, especially the president’s are carefully written. It seems, then, that utilizing the shock and horror of those days, the administration deliberately set out to make the American people afraid of Saddam Hussein. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the wording of the speeches was deliberately crafted so that people would come to associate the man (Hussein) with the event (9/11). Even though the speeches do not explicitly link Hussein to 9/11, the implicit meaning is clear.
The media, as it has done consistently with President Bush, let him get away with promulgating this misconception despite the lack of evidence to back up such a claim, just as not long ago it let him get away with the incredible statement that we went to war with Iraq because Hussein hadn’t let the weapons inspectors in. Not a single reporter had the courage to say, “Now wait a minute, Mr. President, the inspectors were there and they asked for more time.”
I suppose I have a Democrat’s persecution complex, but I believe if Clinton had told such an outrageous lie, the press would have latched onto it and never let go! With Bush, however, the press doesn’t even use the word “lie.”
Meanwhile, the war, which was predicted to cost 50 billion dollars-- and the only mess involved was supposed to be cleaning up all the rose petals the Iraqi people threw at our soldiers-- is not going according to the Bush plan. If the war’s justification was a falsehood, its execution and the ensuing occupation have also been grounded in fantasy.
Additionally, the Pentagon cannot account for over a billion dollars each month of the 4-plus billion dollars it is spending, yet they expect taxpayers to fork over another 87 billion (20 some billion of which, by that measure, they wouldn’t be able to account for), while our wounded soldiers in military hospitals are being charged $8.10 a day for the food.
With all our military might -- with all the blood spilled and money squandered -- both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein still elude us. Many of the people of Iraq, frustrated with the slow progress of rebuilding and the chaos in Iraq, actually say they were better off and “safer” under Hussein. The families of thousands more victims of war now have reason to hate us. Only God knows how many new terrorists that hatred will create.
What a way to run a war. Excuse me, with the war supposedly over in May, what a way to run a peace.
Lonna Gooden VanHorn, a Minnesota daughter of small farmers and now a resident of New Mexico, is the mother of six.
Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2003