From the horses mouth.
Rumsfeld doesn't see Saddam linked to 9-11
His comments appear to conflict with those made recently by Cheney, Rice.
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he has no reason to believe Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a hand in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld was asked about a poll showing nearly 70 percent of respondents believe the Iraqi leader probably was personally involved.
"I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that," Rumsfeld said.
He added: "We know he was giving $25,000 a family for anyone who would go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And we know of various other activities. But on that specific one, no, not to my knowledge."
The Bush administration has asserted that Saddam's government had links to al-Qaida, the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden that masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks. And in various statements over the past year or so administration officials have suggested close links.
Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday, for example, that success in stabilizing and democratizing Iraq would strike a major blow at "the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9-11."
And Tuesday, in an interview on ABC's "Nightline," White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said one of the reasons President George W. Bush went to war against Saddam was because he posed a threat in "a region from which the 9-11 threat emerged."
At his Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld reiterated his belief that U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq are making satisfactory progress.
He said it is an "open question" whether the United States would get the 10,000 to 15,000 additional international troops it seeks to create a third multinational division for security duty in Iraq. The Pentagon has hoped to get at least that many from Turkey, Pakistan or other friendly countries to beef up security and possibly to allow some of the 130,000 U.S. troops there to go home next year.
"It would relieve some of the pressure on our forces," he said. "Whether or not there will be a (United Nations) resolution and whether or not - even if there were a resolution - we would get that number of troops is an open question."
Rice acknowledged that if such commitments are gained, it "could be months" before they were in place.
Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who appeared with Rumsfeld, said more than 210,000 coalition forces are in Iraq: 130,000 Americans, 24,000 British and other international troops, and 60,000 Iraqi police, border guards and civil-defense forces.