Many liberals have argued that, by referring to (and allegedly exaggerating) the links between Al Qaeda and Iraq, the Bush administration has deliberately implied that Saddam was behind 9/11. But any such implication is in the eye of the beholder. There is absolutely no doubt that Saddam's regime was a state sponsor of terrorism â€” as the more recent Pentagon report makes painfully clear â€” and after 9/11/01, the Bush Administration decided to go after state-sponsored terrorism in an aggressive way. Back when Americans cared about 9/11, a lot of us felt the same way. I know I did.
This naturally meant that Bush and Cheney sometimes justified the war in Iraq by referring to the fact that, after 9/11, America had decided to go after terrorists rather than wait for the terrorists to come to us. This explanation does not constitute "claims" that Iraq was linked to the 9/11 attacks.
Patterico and others have complained that the Administration doesn't more aggressively defend itself against such unwarranted attacks. The Bush inner circle must believe arguing these fine points is a losing proposition against the anti-war MSM, but I think they are wrong. You can't allow a damaging lie to be created and then cemented without interruption.