Gore rips Bush on al Qaeda-Saddam link
RNC cites 'history of denial' in response
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore accused the Bush administration Thursday of misleading the American people by claiming a strong connection between Saddam Hussein and the terror group al Qaeda.
"Beginning very soon after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush made a decision to start mentioning Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the same breath in a cynical mantra designed to fuse them together as one in the public's mind," Gore said.
Bush and Cheney created a false impression in the minds of American people that the former Iraqi leader and al Qaeda, blamed for the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were working together, Gore said at the Georgetown University Law School.
His speech Thursday was the latest in a series he has given that harshly criticize the Bush administration.
Bush played on this impression in arguing the need for waging war on Iraq, the Democrat said.
This month, the independent commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks said it found "no credible evidence" of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection beyond preliminary meetings that led nowhere. But neither Bush nor Cheney have wavered from their earlier statements.
"They dare not admit the truth lest they look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever," Gore charged.
The Republican National Committee dismissed Gore's criticism.
"Al Gore's history of denial of the threat of terrorism is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry's surrogate than it was in the 1990s in his role as vice president, a time when Osama Bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times," RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke said in a written statement.
Gore said media who challenge Bush and Cheney's claims of a link are intimidated by the administration.
"The administration works closely with a network of rapid-response digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for undermining support for our troops," Gore said. The term "Brown Shirts" refers to Nazi supporters in the 1930s and '40s.
"The Bush administration's objective of establishing U.S. domination over any potential adversary led to the hubristic, tragic miscalculation of the Iraq war, a painful adventure marked by one disaster after another based on one mistaken assumption after another.
"But the people who paid the price have been the U.S. soldiers trapped over there and the Iraqis in prison," Gore said, referring to the prisoner-abuse scandal.
And Gore said administration lawyers have provided a legal rationale for what he called "sadistic activities" at the prisons -- even though the administration has said it is committed to the humane treatment of all prisoners.
In essence, Gore charged, the lawyers found that the president -- whenever he is acting as commander-in-chief -- is above the "rule of law."