WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Thursday disputed the Sept. 11 commission's finding that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terrorist network responsible for the attacks.
"There was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida," Bush insisted following a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.
"This administration never said that the 9-11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaida," he said.
"We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, for example, Iraqi intelligence agents met with (Osama) bin Laden, the head of al-Qaida in Sudan."
The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said Wednesday that no evidence exists that al-Qaida had strong ties to Saddam Hussein.
Although bin Laden asked for help from Iraq in the mid-1990s, Saddam's government never responded, according to a report by the commission staff based on interviews with government intelligence and law enforcement officials. The report asserted that "no credible evidence" has emerged that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 strikes.