(1st Add: Includes comment from Republican National Committee Communications Director Jim Dyke.)
(CNSNews.com) - Former Vice President Al Gore in a speech before an audience at Georgetown University Law Center Thursday accused President Bush of lying about Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda being in cahoots in plotting the Sept. 11 attacks.
Gore said Bush "knew full well that he was telling an artful and important lie, visibly circumnavigating the truth over and over again, as if he had practiced how to avoid encountering the truth."
The Democrat accused Bush of planning shortly after the terrorist attacks to link Saddam and Osama bin Laden together as co-conspirators of 9/11 in the minds of Americans.
"Beginning very soon after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush made a decision to start mentioning Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the same breath in a cynical mantra designed to fuse them together as one in the public's mind," Gore said.
The former presidential candidate claimed the White House has pressured journalists when they've questioned the war in Iraq.
Gore accused the Bush administration of working closely "with a network of 'rapid response' digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for 'undermining support for our troops.'"
"Al Gore's history of denial of the threat of terrorism is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry's surrogate than it was in the 1990s in his role as Vice President, a time when Osama Bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times," said Republican National Committee Communications Director Jim Dyke following Gore's speech.
"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda," said Bush, one week prior to Gore's speech and shortly after the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks found that there was no "credible evidence" that Saddam and al Qaeda had a "collaborative relationship" at the time of the attacks.
"We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," Bush said. He offered the example of Iraqi intelligence officers meeting with Osama bin Laden in Sudan. "There's numerous contacts between the two," the president said.
According to the commission, Iraq "apparently never responded" to al Qaeda's requests for help in acquiring weapons and setting up training camps.
"I always said that Saddam Hussein was a threat," Bush said recently, noting that Saddam used weapons of mass destruction against his own people; was a sworn enemy of the U.S.; had terrorist connections -- and not just to al Qaeda; and provided safe haven for terrorists for terrorists such as Abu Musab Zarqawi "who is still killing innocents inside of Iraq," he said.
Zarqawi, an al Qaeda leader, is believed to be organizing the terrorist attacks against American forces in Iraq.
In anticipation of Gore's speech, the Republican National Committee on Thursday circulated an "Anger Management" brief, quoting various Washington insiders who recently described Gore as "out of control," in need of psychiatric help, "in full hatred mode" and unstatesmanlike.
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