Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh denied that anyone has ever suggested a connection between Iraq and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and claimed that those who voted for President George W. Bush believe in only a general connection between Iraq and terrorism rather than a direct connection between Iraq and 9-11. In fact, a recent study indicates that 20 percent of Bush supporters believe in a direct Iraqi connection to 9-11, and an additional 55 percent believe Iraq at least provided "substantial support" to Al Qaeda during the Saddam Hussein era. Limbaugh made the false claim on November 8, after a Democratic caller remarked that many Bush supporters believe Iraq was directly involved in the attacks.
In making the false claim, Limbaugh overlooked Vice President Dick Cheney's suggestions of a connection between Iraq and 9-11. On the December 9, 2001, edition of NBC's Meet the Press, moderator Tim Russert asked Cheney if he "still believe[s] there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?" The vice president responded falsely that it was "pretty well confirmed" that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta shortly before the attacks. On the September 14, 2003, edition of Meet the Press, Cheney repeated his claim that Iraq and 9-11 are linked, saying: "If we're successful in Iraq ... we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9-11."
An October 21 study (pdf) conducted by the nonpartisan Program on International Policy Attitudes contradicts Limbaugh's suggestion that Bush voters merely believe in a general "connection of terrorism in Iraq." According to the study, 75 percent of Bush supporters believe that Iraq under Saddam Hussein provided "substantial support" to Al Qaeda, and 20 percent of Bush supporters believe Iraq was directly involved in 9-11. The study found that only 30 percent of Senator John Kerry's supporters believe that Iraq provided substantial support to Al Qaeda, and only 8 percent of Kerry supporters believe Iraq was directly involved in 9-11.
From the November 8 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
CALLER: I think there was no reason to go to war, and I think these people, these -- these good folks, these good Christian folks, one of them was interviewed in Ohio, and asked why she voted for Bush. And she says, "We're voting for Bush because we're Christian people, and he's a good Christian."
And she was asked, well, is there anything that you disagree with about Mr. Bush? And she said, "Yes. On 9-12, we should have just gone in there and demolished Iraq."
Now, here's a woman who is saying that Iraq had something to do with 9-11. Apparently she was given misinformation, and she was misinformed.
LIMBAUGH: The fact that there's no -- no relationship to Iraq and -- and 9-11 -- nobody ever said there was. You guys just believed the myth out there that was -- that was -- that was promulgated. Nobody ever said there was.
What we said was, there's a connection of terrorism in Iraq, and the voters believed this.