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Thursday, September 07, 2006

43% of Americans STILL Believe Saddam Hussein was Involved in 9-11

Leave it to me to find bad news in an item with a good news title. CNN ran a piece yesterday titled, Poll: Iraq war could wound GOP at polls -- one of those news items that's not really news. It's pretty just a confirmation of popular wisdom. Let's start with the good news part.

Fifty-five percent of 1,004 Americans said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who has supported Bush administration policies, according to the poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of CNN. Forty percent said they would be more likely.


The war in Iraq appears to be a main factor in Republican opposition, poll results show. Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents said they are opposed to the war, compared with 39 percent who approve of it.

The war seems to have gained some popularity; 61 percent of poll respondents last month were opposed to the war.

If the war has gained some popularity, the poll barely shows it; it's a 4% difference in a poll with a margin for error of 3 points.

Now, the bad news part.

Asked whether former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 52 percent said he was not, but 43 percent said they believe he was. The White House has denied Hussein's 9/11 involvement -- most recently in a news conference August 21, when President Bush said Hussein had "nothing" to do with the attacks.

WTF? Where have these people been? When almost everyone, Bush included, has said the opposite, it's kind of hard to see why anyone would still believe this. That number seemed huge to me -- until I checked historical numbers on the same question; Associated Press on 9/23/'03:

Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists' strike against this country.

Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it's likely Saddam was involved.

The belief in the connection persists even though there has been no proof of a link between the two.

President Bush and members of his administration suggested a link between the two in the months before the war in Iraq. Claims of possible links have never been proven, however.

Veteran pollsters say the persistent belief of a link between the attacks and Saddam could help explain why public support for the decision to go to war in Iraq has been so resilient despite problems establishing a peaceful country.

I'll take 43% over 69% any day, but that doesn't make me happy with the current numbers. Why does the idea that Saddam was involved in 9/11 die harder than support for the war?

My guess is that there are plenty of people who still support invading Iraq, but not the occupation. After all, Saddam has been jailed and is on trial. Wouldn't that be 'mission accomplished' in these conspiracy theorists' minds? Anything after that is prologue. I can imagine these people saying, "We got him, so now we can leave."

Nutjob conspiracy theories die hard; you'll still hear people saying that Hussein moved all his WMD to Syria, despite the lack of evidence and despite common sense. I mean, c'mon! If you're going to develop what Bush called "the most lethal weapons known to mankind", why would you move them out of the country in the face of an invasion? It's like Lexx Luthor finding out that Superman's coming and telling his flunkies, "Quick, get rid of all this kryptonite or he'll find it!" It makes absolutely no sense at all.

That's what I think is happening here -- the tenacity of propaganda. The media did a terrible job before the war and the misinformation they allowed to be planted then still remains. But it's nearly impossible to tie the ongoing war in Iraq to Saddam Hussein now. The myth lingers on, but it's no longer relevant.

If these numbers show us anything, it's that we have to have a more responsible media. ABC's 'docudrama', The Path to 9/11, shows that they're backsliding and putting out rightwing propaganda again. Do something about it.


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