Large Numbers Of Americans Remain Ignorant On Iraq, Al Qaeda And 9/11
Roughly half of U.S. adults are woefully misinformed on ties among Iraq, Al Qaeda, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a new Harris Poll.
According to the poll, released today:
-- Only 46% said they knew the following statement to be not true: "Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001." Another 30% weren't sure, and 22% believed the statement to be true.
-- Only 42% said they knew the following statement to be not true: "Several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11 were Iraqis." Another 31% weren't sure, and 24% believed the statement to be true.
-- Only 33% said they knew the following statement to be not true: "Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda." Another 24% were not sure, and an amazing 41% believed the statement to be true.
In other words, on three key questions regarding ties between Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11, a majority of Americans either are completely misinformed, or unsure of the truth -- and thus open to misinformation.
How can this be? The 10-member bipartisan 9/11 Commission last year found "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq collaborated with the al Qaeda terrorist network on any attacks against the U.S.
Specifically, the report says on page 66 that there was “no evidence” of any collaborative relationship between Saddam and 9/11 and no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with al Qaeda in “developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.”
And yet, people are misinformed, or unsure of the truth?
Let's start with the lengthy number of high-profile speeches from senior Bush Administration officials to make the case connecting Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11. Consider this, this, this, and this from 2002 and 2003.
But that's old hat. How can people still be so unclear of the issues, four years after the terrorist attacks and roughly 18 months after the 9/11 Commission's report?
I blame the mysterious "they."
As JABBS has written before, President Bush often talks about the mysterious "they" when talking about the "war on terror." He mixes and matches events involving Al Qaeda and those involving the Iraqi insurgency, blending them as "they" or "them," discussing "their objectives," as if Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency thought as one.
By doing so, Bush simultaneously justifies the Iraq War as part of the greater "war on terror," and (perhaps inadvertently) fuels the right-wing mythmakers who hope someday to find proof tying together Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11.
In a national address in June, for example, Bush said this:
BUSH: "Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home."
So, the "they" in Iraq are similar to the "they" that we know as Al Qaeda, in that they are willing to kill Americans. That's the rationale for the war -- or at least it is now. The original rationale was quite different, if you remember. Something about weapons of mass destruction that could be delivered to the U.S. or its allies in 45 minutes. Something about being satisfied with the evidence at hand, lest we wait for "the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
It may surprise you to think that there are some Americans continuing to make false claims of ties between Iraq, Al Qaeda and 9/11. But it's true. And there efforts only help to keep Americans in the dark.
According to a Dec. 28 story in the Wall Street Journal, the "media-savvy" and Orwellian-titled Move America Forward is advertising the ridiculous claim that newly discovered documents prove "extensive ties" between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Why haven't you heard about these documents from the media, or even the Bush Administration? According to Move America Forward, the discoveries are conveniently being "covered up."
There are people who believe the earth was created 5,000 years ago. There are people who believe that the Holocaust never happened. There are people who believe men haven't been to the moon. Evidence doesn't matter to these people -- it just fuels more conspiracy theories. If they close their eyes tightly enough and put their fingers deep into their ears, maybe they can avoid the truth. Unfortunately, the people from Move America Forward feel compelled to spread their "alternate truth" to the masses.
The group has raised more than $1 million, mainly in small donations, over the past two years, to get its message out. The Journal said, "The effect of the ads hasn't been measured."
I disagree. The ads are doing their part to keep Americans misinformed.