LINGERING CONFUSION….For an embarrassingly long time, large numbers of Americans believed a series of bogus claims about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, including non-existent connections to 9/11. The good news is the percentages have fallen considerably since the war began. The bad news is we still have a ways to go.

According to a new poll published today by the Wall Street Journal, war-related myths continue linger in the public’s mind.

* 41% of poll respondents said Saddam Hussein had “strong links” with Al Qaeda. This is down from 64% who believed this 10 months ago.

* 22% said Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the United States on 9/11. In February 2005, 47% believed this. (Complicating matters in the more recent poll, an additional 30% said they were “not sure” if this is true or not.)

* 26% said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. That’s down 10 points since February.

* 24% said several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis. Ten months ago, 44% believed this. (In case you’ve forgotten, the actual number of Iraqi hijackers on 9/11 is zero.)

Who’s responsible for such widespread confusion? The Bush administration clearly deserves some blame with its irresponsible and highly misleading rhetoric, before the invasion and after it. That said, some of these claims were dropped from the White House talking points over a year ago, and some (such as the notion of Iraqi hijackers) were never uttered in the first place.

News outlets may bear some blame, but even the worst of the he-said, she-said reports make clear that there’s no evidence of “strong ties” between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and/or 9/11. (This does not include Fox News, whose viewers are more confused than anyone else.)

Maybe it’s the one-in-four Americans who still believe Iraq had WMD who should take responsibility and get better informed? You don’t have to be a news junkie reading six newspapers a day to recognize reality.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.