Majority in US believes Bush ' stretched truth ' about Iraq: poll

07/02/03: WASHINGTON (AFP) - For the first time since the beginning of the war in Iraq, a solid majority of Americans believe the Bush administration either "stretched the truth" about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or told outright lies, according to a new opinion survey.

The poll by the University of Maryland found that 52 percent of respondents said they believed President George W. Bush and his aides were "stretching the truth, but not making false statements" about Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear programs.

Another 10 percent said US officials were presenting Congress, the American public and the international community "evidence they knew was false," indicated the survey which was made public Tuesday.

Only 32 percent said they thought the government was being "fully truthful" about the Iraqi arsenal.

The weapons of mass destruction -- as well as the Iraqi government's alleged ties to the al-Qaeda terrorist group -- which the administration claimed represented an immediate threat to the Unites States, served as the chief rationale for launching the March 20 invasion of the country.

But more than three months since the start of the war, US troops have yet to find any of the suspected weapons.

Similarly, 56 percent of those polled believed the US government stretched the truth or made outright false statements about Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda.

The nationwide survey of 1,051 people was conducted from June 18 to 25 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

 Copyright 2003 AFP

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