On Sunday's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, panel member Katty Kay of the BBC claimed that Vice President Dick Cheney had convinced 70 percent of Americans to believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, and that he "hoodwinked the American public." Kay's accusation came as host Matthews had turned the discussion to the topic of how President Obama might have handled the response to the 9/11 attacks differently than President Bush.
Bob Woodward of the Washington Post asserted that "there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded, and then they came." But, as previously documented by the MRC's NewsBusters blog, before the 2003 invasion, various news sources - some American, some from other countries - were already citing the governments of several countries as reporting that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq, not only was already in Iraq plotting attacks against targets in Europe, but that he already had an association with Osama bin Laden and had spent time in Afghanistan.
Kay then chimed in, as she suggested that Cheney had convinced most Americans that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, although she seemed to mistakenly use the word "Iraq" instead of "9/11." Kay: "But the, sort of, political 'extraordinary-ness' of the Bush administration was that Cheney managed to convince 70 percent of American people that Iraq was, that Saddam Hussein was directly behind Iraq and hoodwinked the American public."
Matthews responded: "In the polling, you're right, it's in the polling."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, November 7, syndicated Chris Matthews Show:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Is there a difference between these fellows in terms of what to do after 9/11? Would Obama would have done what we're doing now?
BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: Well, certainly, Obama would not have gone into Iraq, and, of course, you know, Bush is right, they didn't hit us again-
MATTHEWS: Is there a connection?
WOODWARD: No, there's not, unfortunately. As we know, there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded, and then they came.
KAY: But the, sort of, political "extraordinaryness" of the Bush administration was that Cheney managed to convince 70 percent of American people that Iraq was, that Saddam Hussein was directly behind Iraq (PRESUMABLY MEANT TO SAY "9/11" INSTEAD OF "IRAQ")
MATTHEWS: In the polling, you're right, it's in the polling.
KAY: -and hoodwinked the American public.
ANDREA MITCHELL: The other piece of it was that everyone in that inner circle in the foreign policy team and at the CIA, they felt that it was completely justified, and they had the same mindset that he has now, that he revealed to Matt Lauer. That was the ethos of that whole foreign policy team. And what you have in-
MATTHEWS: But not the agency people, not the agency people.
MITCHELL: But, at the time, they felt that, as long as there was no attack, no second 9/11.
-Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center