On Your World, Neil Cavuto failed to challenge Dan Bartlett's straw man argument that "nobody has suggested that or directly said that Saddam Hussein ordered" the 9-11 terrorist attacks. In fact, no one is accusing the administration of claiming that Saddam ordered the terrorist attacks; rather, critics point out the Bush administration's repeated attempts to link Iraq and 9-11 more generally.
On the August 31 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto failed to challenge White House counselor Dan Bartlett's straw man argument that "nobody has suggested that or directly said that Saddam Hussein ordered" the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bartlett made this argument in response to a question from Cavuto about whether Bush administration critics will claim that the administration is "trying to link 9-11 to Iraq" as the five-year anniversary of the attacks approaches. In fact, no one is accusing the administration of claiming that Saddam ordered the terrorist attacks. While the Bush administration has never gone so far as to make that claim, it has repeatedly attempted to link Iraq and the attacks of 9-11, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bartlett's language echoed recent statements from President Bush, who, at an August 21 press conference, responded to a question about the relationship between Iraq and the attack on the World Trade Center by claiming that "nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack." Also, as Media Matters noted, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams failed to challenge Bush's statement during an August 29 interview that "I personally do not believe Saddam Hussein picked up the phone and said to Al Qaeda, 'Attack America.' " As Media Matters has noted, on October 14, 2002, Bush declared, "[T]here is a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein." Shortly before the Iraq invasion, on March 17, 2003, he claimed that Saddam's government had "aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of Al Qaeda." And on May 1, 2003, Bush said that the toppling of Saddam's government had "removed an ally of Al Qaeda." Media Matters has noted additional examples of Bush and other administration officials repeatedly and falsely asserting a connection between Iraq and 9-11 or Al Qaeda here, here, here, and here.
From the August 31 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
CAVUTO: Do you think, though, Dan, that your critics are going to come out and say, "Look, they swore on a stack of Bibles that they weren't trying to link 9-11 to Iraq, and, yet, now, on the five-year anniversary, they are, in fact, linking Iraq to the greater battle of terror"?
I know it's nuanced, but, to the Democrats, they're saying that's being phony.
BARTLETT: Well, Neil, it's interesting. Here we are, as the president demonstrated in his speech, having a debate amongst ourselves about whether Iraq is central to the front in the war on terror or not. As the president has already said, when it comes to the plot of 9-11, nobody has suggested that or directly said that Saddam Hussein ordered those attacks.
But what the president has said, and what he has repeatedly pointed to, is the fact that the terrorists are making this the central front in the war on terror. Bin Laden himself, who President Bush quoted in the speech, says: "The Third World War rages in Iraq today. This is the epicenter of the fight."
So it doesn't matter what we say. We should be taking the -- the words of the enemy seriously. They think it's the fight of -- of the war on terror, so we must as well.
President Bush recognizes that many Americans may not have supported his original decision to remove Saddam Hussein. He also recognizes that people are anxious about what's happening there today. But we shouldn't mistaken [sic] ourselves to believe that this is not tied to the broader struggle that we are fighting to protect our country.
It is instrumental to the victory that we all want and hope to see. And it's important that we have the policies in place to fight and win. And, unfortunately, too often, we heard Democrats take the other side, to say, "We can pull out, and there won't be any consequences in the broader war on terror."
That's absolutely wrong. And President Bush argued a very strong case for why that would be just that.
CAVUTO: All right, Dan Bartlett, thank you for stopping by. Appreciate it.