Devon Largio, who documented 27 rationales provided for war with Iraq between September 2001 and October 2002 (exsum-pdf, thesis-pdf), also documented that Americans were not "duped" into believing Saddam Hussein was involved in, or responsible for, the 9/11 attack by studying the Bush administration's rhetoric, media reporting and polling between July 2001 and May 2004.
When Osama Became Saddam: Origins and Consequences of the Change in America’s Public Enemy #1
While it appeared from publicly-reported surveys that Americans initially blamed Osama and only later blamed Saddam, our analysis shows that Americans were willing to blame Saddam immediately after 9/11 when survey respondents were presented with that possibility. Indeed, rather than seeing a sudden spike in Saddam’s culpability around the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, our analysis shows a steady decline in the percentage of Americans willing to blame Saddam, a percentage that has been dropping ever since the first days following 9/11.Devon Largio published both papers in 2004 and has since graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D from Vanderbilt University Law School. She is currently a litigation associate in Kirkland's Chicago office.
News coverage and presidential rhetoric may have replaced Osama with Saddam over time, but Saddam was on the short list of most likely suspects from the beginning for most Americans. Rather than showing a gullible public blindly accepting the rationales offered by an administration bent on war, our analysis reveals a self-correcting public that has grown ever more doubtful of Hussein’s culpability since the 9/11 attacks.
This solid research has been ignored by such "luminaries" as Bill Moyers, Lance Bennett, Regina Lawrence, and Steven Livingston.
My Questions for Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston remain unanswered.
Before Karl Rove, There Was Bill Moyers