Cheney insistent on Saddam's al-Qaida links

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US vice president Dick Cheney has reiterated his belief that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had links with al-Qaida.

A report released yesterday by the US defence department suggested that evidence used to evaluate Saddam's connections with the terror network had been used "inappropriately".

The administration of US president George Bush has attracted significant criticism over the years for failing to justify the reasons it gave in going to war against Saddam in 2003.

Question marks over the use of evidence demonstrating al-Qaida's contact with Iraq have prompted vehement disputes by journalists and campaigners with US officials.

Mr Cheney yesterday dismissed the report's claims in an interview on the radio show of far-right presenter Rush Limbaugh.

He said attempts to separate Iraq from the rest of the global war on terror were "dead wrong" in the current climate and implied that the same situation existed prior to the 2003 invasion.

Mr Cheney highlighted the pre-war presence of al-Qaida's former chief in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as an example to show the presence of al-Qaida in the country during Saddam's period in power.

The Bush administration has already admitted that its other main justification for the 2003 conflict – that Saddam's regime was in possession of weapons of mass destruction – was wrong.

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