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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Findings on 9/11 split US press
The 9/11 commission reveals its early findings in Washington
The press have focused on the inquiry's comments on Iraq
US newspapers are divided in their reaction to the initial findings of the national commission on the 11 September 2001 attacks on America.

The liberal New York Times says President Bush should apologise after the inquiry found no proof of an Iraqi role in the attacks.

However, another liberal daily, the Washington Post, notes the report did find Iraqi contacts with al-Qaeda.

The tabloid New York Post argues that Democrats are distorting the findings.

Not the point

"To hear much of the news reporting yesterday, you'd think a National 9/11 Commission report had blown a giant hole in the Bush administration's rationale for toppling Saddam Hussein," the Post says in an editorial.

Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be al-Qaeda forces, including Mr Bin Laden
New York Times

"The commission did no such thing. But that didn't stop congressional Democrats - led by presumptive presidential nominee John Kerry - from renewing their charges that the administration 'misled America' about Saddam Hussein's ties to Osama Bin Laden."

It was not because of a "Saddam-Osama alliance" that America went into Iraq, but as "part of the war on terror", it writes.

"The war on terrorism is not just about seeking revenge against the perpetrators of 9/11 - it's about neutralising radical Islam's fundamental challenge to Western civilisation," the tabloid says.

It adds that "just because the Kean commission hasn't yet found any evidence [of an al-Qaeda-Iraq link] does not mean it doesn't exist".

'Wasted effort'

The Washington Post points out that the commission did find evidence of contacts between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda and chides Bush critics who seize on the commission's findings to accuse the White House of lying.

"The accusation is nearly as irresponsible as the Bush administration's rhetoric has been," the daily concludes.

However, the New York Times accuses President Bush of misleading Americans.

"Of all the ways Mr Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide," it writes.

"Now President Bush should apologise to the American people."

The paper goes on to suggest that not only was the war in Iraq unjustifiable in terms of fighting terrorism, but it has drained security resources.

"The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be al-Qaeda forces, including Mr Bin Laden," the New York Times writes.

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