Cheney Says There Was No Iraq Link to 9/11 Attacks By James Rowley and Jonathan D. Salant / Bloomberg News / Last Updated: June 1, 2009 18:22 EDT June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney disavowed intelligence he once cited to suggest that then-Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein collaborated with al-Qaeda to stage the Sept. 11 attacks. Cheney said today that information by the Central Intelligence Agency of collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaeda on Sept. 11 “turned out not to be true.” Still, Cheney said a longstanding relationship existed between Hussein and terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, that justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. “I thought it was strong at the time and I still feel so today,” Cheney said at a National Press Club lunch in Washington. “There was a relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq that stretched back 10 years. That’s not something I made up.” Citing 2002 Senate testimony by George Tenet, then the CIA director, he said, “We know for a fact that Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terrorism.” On whether Hussein helped al-Qaeda carry out the 2001 terrorist attacks, Cheney said, “I do not believe, and I have never seen any evidence, that he was involved in 9/11.” Cheney continued his attacks on President Barack Obama’s pledge to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where suspected terrorists are being held. Obama has called the indefinite detention of suspects at Guantanamo a “mistake” and said he will close the camp -- a vow that has been complicated by the refusal of lawmakers, including Democrats, to provide funding. Difficult to Close “I think it’s going to be very difficult to close Guantanamo,” Cheney said. “It’s a good, well-run facility. If you’re going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we are in terms of global war on terrorism, if you don’t have a place where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill them. We don’t operate that way.” Several months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney said it was “pretty well” confirmed that Mohamed Atta, one of the leaders of the attack, had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in April 2000, according to a Washington Post account. Cheney later said the meeting’s existence couldn’t be proven, the Post said. The presidential commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks concluded in 2004 that meetings or contacts between al- Qaeda and Iraqi officials didn’t result in collaboration between the terrorist group and Hussein’s regime. Defending Policies Cheney’s midday speech marked his latest salvo in a personal campaign to defend the Bush administration’s post-9/11 policies while suggesting that Obama’s actions have made the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. In his press club appearance, Cheney said that foreign governments that have criticized Guantanamo haven’t been willing to take in suspects detained there. And if detainees are admitted to the U.S., they would gain certain rights and protections they do not have in the prison in Cuba. “If you bring them here and a judge rules you can’t hold them any longer, you have to release them in the United States,” Cheney said. Cheney, 68, has said lives were saved by Bush administration actions, including authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques considered to be torture, such as waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning. Obama has banned waterboarding, saying such actions betray the country’s “ideals” and aren’t necessary to “wage an aggressive battle against organizations like al-Qaeda. ‘Worried’ About GM Cheney also said today he was “worried” about General Motors Corp.’s bankruptcy protection that was forced upon the automaker by the Obama administration. The bankruptcy plan calls for taxpayers to own more than 60 percent of General Motors. “Once you get into the business of a government running a major corporation like General Motors,” political pressures “come to bear and not economic interests,’” Cheney said. In an interview before his speech, Cheney said the U.S. will face “enormous pressure” to manage GM in a way that doesn’t cost jobs. Cheney, asked about gay rights at the luncheon, said decisions on whether to legalize same-sex marriages should be made by states, not the federal government. Cheney, whose daughter, Mary, is gay, indicated that he supports same-sex marriages. “Freedom means freedom for everyone,” he said. “I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.” **************************** Really!?! Ya don't say... Yeah, it's ALL Tenet's fault. Sure Dick. Sure.