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sledge BS: OK, Maybe 9/11 Could Have Been Prevented (221* d) RE: BS: OK, Maybe 9/11 Could Have Been Prevented 22 Jun 04

Lifted from the Financial Times website.

The bi-partisan commission investigating the September 11 attacks has asked the White House to produce any evidence of a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, after Dick Cheney, US vice-president, criticised a report that concluded there were no substantive links.

The 9/11 commission last week said it had found no evidence that Iraq had collaborated with the terrorist network, undermining one administration argument justifying the invasion.

In March President George W. Bush was forced to concede publicly that the White House had no evidence that Mr Hussein played any role in the September 11 attacks. His remarks came just days after Mr Cheney had said that the administration did not know whether the Iraqi leader was involved.

But the administration has continued to insist that Mr Hussein had in the past collaborated with the extremist group.

The commission, which is expected to release its final report into the attacks next month, said that although Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief, appeared to have asked Iraq for help in obtaining weapons in 1994, Mr Hussein's regime never responded.

Separately on Sunday, John Lehman, another member of the 9/11 panel, said evidence had emerged that a "prominent" al-Qaeda member served in Mr Hussein's military. He said the evidence became available after the completion of the interim report.

Following the release of the interim report, Mr Cheney argued that Iraq had responded to some of the overtures from al-Qaeda. But Lee Hamilton, the Democrat vice-chairman of the commission, on Sunday said the panel had asked Mr Cheney to produce any evidence to support that claim.

"The vice-president said there was a response by Iraq to some of Osama bin Laden's requests," Mr Hamilton said on ABC. "We found no evidence of that response and so we asked the vice-president if he had information we did not have."

Last week Mr Cheney said he "probably" had evidence that the commission had not obtained, prompting calls from panel members to produce the evidence.

You think that such evidence of collusion between the two, Al Qaeda and Saddam would have been headline material, instead the best we have is that Cheney probably has evidence.

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