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Inside Politics

Cheney blasts media on al Qaeda-Iraq link

Says media not 'doing their homework' in reporting ties

Cheney said the press is "often times lazy, often times simply reports what somebody else in the press said."
Dick Cheney
Al Qaeda

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday the evidence is "overwhelming" that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, and he said media reports suggesting that the 9/11 commission has reached a contradictory conclusion were "irresponsible."

"There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming," Cheney said in an interview with CNBC's "Capitol Report."

"It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials."

"The press, with all due respect, (is) often times lazy, often times simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework."

Members of 9/11 commission found "no credible evidence" that Iraq was involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda hijackers, and they concluded that there was "no collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Osama bin Laden, the network's leader, according to details of its findings disclosed Wednesday at a public hearing.

However, the commission also found that bin Laden did "explore possible cooperation with Iraq."

Cheney told CNBC that cooperation included a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service going to Sudan, where bin Laden was based prior to moving his operations to Afghanistan, to train al Qaeda members in bomb-making and document forgery.

Both Cheney and President Bush are strongly disputing suggestions that the commission's conclusion that there were no Iraqi fingerprints on the 9/11 attacks contradicts statements they made in the run-up to the Iraq war about links between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Bush, who has said himself that there is no evidence Iraq was involved in 9/11, sought to explain the distinction Thursday, saying that while the administration never "said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" with Iraqi help, "we did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda."

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," the president said. (Full story)

In his CNBC interview, Cheney went a bit further. Asked if Iraq was involved in 9/11, he said, "We don't know."

"What the commission says is they can't find evidence of that," he said. "We had one report, which is a famous report on the Czech intelligence service, and we've never been able to confirm or to knock it down."

The uncorroborated Czech report, which has been widely disputed, alleged that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the attacks.

Asked if he knows information that the 9/11 commission does not know, Cheney replied, "Probably."

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