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- (RAWSTORY) Newly appointed US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told American troops in Baghdad on Monday that 9/11 was the reason they were in Iraq, before he was quickly corrected by his spokesman.
"The reason you guys are here is because of 9/11. The US got attacked and 3,000 human beings got killed because of Al-Qaeda," Panetta told about 150 soldiers at the Camp Victory US base.
"We've been fighting as a result of that," he said.
The administration of former US President George W. Bush had hastily linked Saddam Hussein, the ousted Iraqi dictator, to the 9/11 attacks.
That was one of the justifications for the 2003 US-led invasion, but the argument has since been widely dismissed.
Doug Wilson, Panetta's spokesman, quickly jumped in after his boss, who just took office on July 1, made the statement.