Minister has to deny linking Bush to 9/11 attack


From The Times

July 9, 2007

Minister has to deny linking Bush to 9/11 attack

Charles Bremner in Paris

A French Cabinet minister sought yesterday to play down remarks in which she appeared to say that President Bush may have been behind the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Christine Boutin, 63, Minister for Housing and Town Planning in President Sarkozy’s Government, said that her comments had been distorted in a video that was circulated on the internet.

During an interview with a small French television channel in November, Ms Boutin was asked if the Bush Administration might have been involved in the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York, and the attack on the Pentagon. “I think it is possible,” she said.

Ms Boutin, who is known for her conservative Catholic views, said in the interview that she had been impressed by the strength of opinion on the internet that favoured the notion of a US conspiracy in the 9/11 attacks. “I know that the websites that speak of this problem are websites that have the highest number of visits . . . And I tell myself that this expression of the masses and of the people cannot be without any truth,” she said.

Ms Boutin’s office noted yesterday that the internet video had dropped the next sentence, in which she said: “I’m not telling you that I adhere to that position.” Christian Dupont, chief of staff for Ms Boutin, said that her remarks had been distorted to create a row.

They nevertheless embarrassed the Sarkozy administration as it seeks to restore relations with Washington after years of friction under President Chirac. France has been fertile ground for conspiracy theories on the 2001 attacks. In 2002 Thierry Meyssan, a French conspiracy theorist, scored a French bestseller with a book that claimed that no airliner hit the Pentagon on September 11.