Levin on FNS......
WALLACE: Senator Levin, I want to change subjects with you. You have joined a chorus of Democrats who have accused this president and this administration of basically misleading, some say even lying, the country into this war.
And I want to ask you about one specific case, if I can. You've charged repeatedly that the president said before the war that you couldn't distinguish between and . Aren't you distorting what the president actually said?
LEVIN: No, that's exactly what his words were.
WALLACE: That you couldn't distinguish.
LEVIN: That's exactly right.
WALLACE: Well, let's take a look at what the president actually said in September of 2002. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Both of them need to be dealt with. The War on Terror is you can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the War on Terror. I can't distinguish between the two because they're both equally as bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The point, Senator, is he wasn't saying that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were linked. He was specifically asked which one is more dangerous, and he was saying he couldn't distinguish and say one was more dangerous than the other.
LEVIN: Yes, but what he also said in the same sentence was that Saddam Hussein would like nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill, and that is not what the intelligence was, which said that Saddam Hussein was, quote, "intensely secular, wary of Islamic revolutionary movements."
That's what the intelligence was, and yet the president tried to link those two, and he did so much so much so that the majority of the American people the majority of the American people believed, when we went to war, that Saddam Hussein had attacked us on 9/11. And on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln immediately following the war, when he said mission accomplished, the president of the United States said we have removed an ally of Al Qaeda. Those were exactly his words. They were not allies.
WALLACE: Senator, he was specifically...
LEVIN: The intelligence community...
WALLACE: Senator, if I can ask a question here, he specifically was asked at one point if there was any evidence that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and he said no, there wasn't. And again, because you know, we can go into all of these things, but that specific quote there where you say he couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein he wasn't saying that they were linked at all.
He was saying one was as bad as the other, and when he said in that same answer something about that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist network, he wasn't saying that they would like to use Al Qaeda. So you're making a link there that the president never made.
LEVIN: He made the link so strong that the majority of the American people believed, when we went into Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had actually attacked us on 9/11.
Where do you think the American people got that impression from except from their leaders? And he specifically, again, on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, when that big banner was up there, mission accomplished, he said we have removed an ally of Al Qaeda. How much more link can there be?
WALLACE: So even after we played that sound bite that indicates that he didn't say that you couldn't distinguish, meaning that they were linked, you're still saying that that's what he said, even after you've heard what he actually said.
LEVIN: No, he said exactly what you said. He'd like nothing more what you said, when you talk about the War on Terror, you can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam.
He then went on to say what you said. But then he went on further to say that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist group against the United States, but that's not what the intelligence was saying.
The specific intelligence was that assisting assisting Islamic terrorists against the United States would be an extreme measure for Saddam Hussein, and so the CIA was saying that there was no operational effective link at all, and yet the president, the vice president...
WALLACE: Actually, the CIA...
LEVIN: ... and other people were...
WALLACE: Senator, Senator, again, I think you're distorting the information. The director of the CIA, , testified before Congress that, in fact, there were links and that there had been training.
I don't know, Senator Lugar, you've got a...
LEVIN: No, no, not training.
I don't know about the Mitchell incident.
Wallace: And I want to ask you about one specific case, if I can. You've charged repeatedly that the president said before the war that you couldn't distinguish between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Aren't you distorting what the president actually said?