(CNSNews.com) - According to a recent Harris Poll, a growing number of Americans believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States went to war in March 2003.
Fifty percent of American adults, when questioned by telephone between July 5 and 11 said they believe weapons of mass destruction (WMD) existed in Iraq before the U.S. invaded and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.
In February and March 2003 - just before and just after the invasion - Harris Interactive found that 81 percent of Americans believed the WMDs existed, but following the Iraq Survey Group's 2004 report, which concluded that there was no evidence of the weapons, the number plunged.
In October 2004 Harris Interactive found that only 38 percent of Americans believed the weapons existed. By February 2005, the percentage had dropped even further - to 36.
The latest poll - indicating that the mood has shifted and half of American adults believe Saddam possessed WMDs - surprised the polling firm.
"People seem to think Iraq had these weapons even if there's not much evidence of it," said David Krane, vice president of Harris Interactive. "No weapons of mass destruction have been used or found."
Krane added that "even if there have been some discussions about the stockpiling of weapons that may be coming out slowly, I just can't imagine that the broad public knows that," he told Cybercast News Service.
However, an Oct. 4, 2004, report by Cybercast News Service included 42 pages of Iraqi Intelligence Service memos that revealed Saddam's purchase of mustard gas and anthrax as recently as the summer of 2000 and his extensive ties to al Qaeda.
In February, the House Intelligence Committee began examining 48,000 boxes of Iraqi documents that had not yet been translated or catalogued, but were thought to contain information about Saddam Hussein's weapons program.
Then in June, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) released declassified portions of an intelligence report that they said confirmed Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction, including mustard gas. The report indicated that 500 such weapons had been destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition since 2003 and that the U.S. and its allies were racing against terrorist groups in trying to control the remaining weapons in Iraq.
"It is essential for the American people to understand that these weapons are in Iraq," Santorum said during the news conference last month.
But many skeptics remain, including retired Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Lawrence Vann, who insisted that the American public is being "misled."
"The American people were misled prior, during, and after our dedicated men and women return from duty in Iraq," Vann told Cybercast News Service Monday.
"Belief is one thing, but facts are another," he said. "We've been in that theater for over three years now, and we have not found anything.
"Sadly, the American people have been feed so much unintelligence, they are reeling from the deception they have been dealt. Unfortunately the American people are responding to unfounded fear of WMD in a land far removed from our own," Vann added.
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