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GOP lawmaker: Saddam linked to 9/11

N.C. representative says 'evidence is clear'

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A Republican congressman from North Carolina told CNN on Wednesday that the "evidence is clear" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said that Saddam was a dangerous man, but when asked about Hayes' statement, would not link the deposed Iraqi ruler to the terrorist attacks on New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

"I haven't seen compelling evidence of that," McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN.

On Tuesday night, President Bush mentioned the September 11 attacks five times during his address on the war in Iraq, prompting criticism from congressional Democrats. (Full story)

The 9/11 commission, appointed by Bush, presented its final report a year ago, saying that Osama bin Laden had been "willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq" at one time in the 1990s but that the al Qaeda leader "had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army."

The 520-page report said investigators found no evidence that any "contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship."

"Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States," it said.

President Bush said in September 2003 that "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 [attacks]."

Nevertheless, Hayes insisted that the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam and "folks who work for him" has been seen "time and time again."

"Nobody disputes 9/11," Hayes said. "They would do it again if not prevented."

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