Text of Mayor Anderson's speech

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 30 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

Even last week, when I met with Thomas Bock, the National Commander of the American Legion, I asked him why we are engaged in the war in Iraq. Why did we invade and occupy Iraq? He said, "Why, of course, because of the 9/11 attacks on our country." I asked, "What did Iraq have to do with those attacks?" He looked puzzled, and said, "Well, the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq."

I was shocked. I was stunned. Here is a man who has criticized us for opposing the war in Iraq — and he is so completely wrong about the underlying facts to justify this war.

Not only has there never been any evidence of any involvement by Saddam or Iraq with the attacks on 9/11, but there has never been any evidence of any operational connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

And Colin Powell finally conceded that there is, and these are his words, no "concrete evidence about the connection." "The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track al Qaeda" disclosed that "his team had found no evidence linking al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein." And the top investigator for our European allies has said, 'If there were (any) such links, we would have found them. But we have found no serious connections whatsoever.'"

President Bush, by the way, finally admitted nine days ago on Aug. 21 during a press conference that there was no connection between the attacks on 9/11 and Iraq. It's terrific that the President has now admitted what others have known for so long — but where is the accountability for the tragic war we were led into on the basis of his earlier misrepresentations?

Beside the fictions of Saddam Hussein somehow being linked to the 9/11 attacks and his supposed connections with al Qaeda, what was the principal justification for forgoing additional weapons inspections, working with our allies toward a solution, refraining from seeking additional resolutions from the United Nations consistent with international law, and hurrying to war — a so-called "pre-emptive" war — in which we would attack and occupy a Muslim nation that posed no security risk to the United States, and cause the deaths of so many thousands of innocent men, women, and children — and the deaths and lifetime injuries to so many thousands of our own servicemen and servicewomen?

The principal claim was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — biological and chemical weapons — and was seeking to build up a nuclear weapons capability. As we now know, there was nothing — no evidence whatsoever — to support those false claims.

President Bush represented to us — and to people around the world — that one of the reasons we needed to make war in Iraq — and to do it right away — was because Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. His assertions about Saddam Hussein trying to purchase nuclear materials from an African nation and about Iraq seeking to obtain aluminum tubes for the enrichment of uranium were challenged at the time by our own intelligence agency and by our own scientists, yet President Bush failed to tell us that!

Ten days, 10 days, before the invasion of Iraq, it was proven that the documents upon which President Bush's claim about Saddam Hussein trying to obtain uranium was based were forgeries. That was found 10 days before we invaded Iraq. However, President Bush did not disclose that to the American people. By that failure, he betrayed each of us, he betrayed our country, and he betrayed the cause of world peace.

Neither did the vast majority of the news media in this country disclose the forgeries — until it was far too late. It took our local newspapers here in Salt Lake City four months — until after the war was commenced and until after President Bush declared that major combat in Iraq was over — to report the discovery that the documents were forgeries — and, therefore, that there was no basis for the false claims about Saddam Hussein trying to build up a nuclear capability. By its failure to promptly disclose those forgeries, our news media betrayed us as well.

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