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Inside Politics

9/11 panel stands by finding on al Qaeda, Iraq

Commission: We have same information as Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney said he 'probably' had access to information that the 9/11 panel lacked.
September 11 attacks
Dick Cheney

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Disputing anew an assertion by the Bush administration, the independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, released a statement Tuesday indicating that it stands by its conclusion that al Qaeda and Iraq had only limited connections.

"After examining available transcripts of [Vice President Dick Cheney's] public remarks, the 9/11 commission believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks," the commission said in a written statement.

That statement comes in the wake of an interview Cheney gave last month on CNBC. During that interview, Cheney said "we don't know" whether Iraq was involved in the attacks. Asked whether he had information the panel did not, the vice president said, "Probably."

After Cheney's statement on CNBC, the commission asked the vice president to come forward with any additional information he could provide about any ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

One Cheney aide who spoke on condition of anonymity dismissed Tuesday's commission statement, calling it a "nonstory."

The commission has said it has seen no evidence to suggest that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's government was involved in the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

In a report released last month, the commission concluded that though there were numerous contacts in the 1990s between Iraq and al Qaeda, those contacts did not result in a "collaborative relationship."

Last month, Cheney accused news outlets of distorting the commission's findings to portray them as contradicting statements that administration officials made in the months before the invasion of Iraq.

Alleged ties between Iraq and al Qaeda were a main reason the administration gave for going to war.

Cheney also said recently that the United States has never been able to "knock down" an uncorroborated Czech report that September 11 plot leader Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague, Czech Republic, before the attacks.

The commission said it doesn't believe such a meeting ever took place.

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