As part of its cover story on “what you need to know now,” Newsweek conducted a broad poll on a variety of political and cultural affairs. There were plenty of interesting results, but one section was particularly noteworthy.
Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right — and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq.
For that matter, one in five Americans (20%) believe that we did find chemical/biological weapons “hidden by Saddam Hussein’s regime.”
Perhaps most troubling, the number of people who are confused about Iraq’s non-existent role in the 9/11 attacks has gone up in recent years. When Newsweek asked the same question in the fall of 2004, 36% said Saddam Hussein was “directly involved” with the attacks. Nearly three years later, that number is 41%.
Sure, Bush administration officials have been careless with their rhetoric, leading to some confusion. And sure, there were probably some Fox News viewers included in the poll, skewing the numbers.
But that still doesn’t explain a result like this one.