US foreign policy is indisputably linked to the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people a decade ago, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said today.
With polls in key states placing him in the top crop of Republican candidates competing to become their party's nominee to oust Democratic President Barack Obama from the White House, the Texas congressman is facing growing scrutiny over past controversial statements.
Paul, a longtime advocate of less government, reduced taxes and decriminalizing prostitution and drugs, said US intervention abroad was triggering the ire of violent extremists motivated to act because "we don't like American bombs to be falling on our country."
"I think there's an influence," Paul told CBS television's "Face the Nation."
"That's exactly what the 9/11 Commission said. That's what the DoD (Department of Defense) has said. That's also what the CIA has said. That's what a lot of researchers have said."
The interview came as a Bloomberg News poll has Paul in a statistical dead heat with three other candidates for the Republican lead in Iowa, a critical state in the nominating process that will host on January 3 the first early vote kicking off the 2012 election cycle.
He pointed to the US military's withdrawal from a base in Saudi Arabia shortly after 9/11 as an example of how US policies are partially responsible for violent actions against Americans.
And Paul said that if he became president, he would pull US troops out of bases overseas, claiming that defenses like submarines would be powerful enough as deterrents.
But he was quick to take issue with those characterizing his position as meaning the attacks were "America's fault."
"The average American didn't cause it. But if you have a flawed policy, it may influence it... I'm saying policies have an effect but that's a far cry from blaming America," he said.