http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/03/16/blix.back.ap/index.html NEW YORK (AP) -- President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have lost credibility, the world is not safer now that Saddam Hussein is out of power and it was clear 10 months ago that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to Hans Blix, the former U.N. weapons inspector who returned to New York on the one-year anniversary of the war. Blix, who was often vilified by supporters and opponents of an invasion in the run-up to the Iraq war, left his post at the United Nations last June at a time when many held out hope that biological, chemical or even nuclear weapons could be found by U.S. troops in Iraq. But dozens of search teams over the last year have came up empty handed and much of the initial resources devoted to the hunt have since been reallocated. In an address Monday at New York University, Blix said the United States should have known months ago that there were no weapons to be found. "By May I knew there was nothing because the Americans had interrogated so many Iraqis by then and even offered money and still they found nothing." On a speaking tour for his new book "Disarming Iraq," Blix offered some tough assessments of American accomplishments in Iraq and suggested that the United States was motivated to go to war because of the attacks of September 11, 2001. "It was a reaction to 9/11 that we have to strike some theoretical, hypothetical links between Saddam Hussein and the terrorists. That was wrong. There wasn't anything," he said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show. And he disagreed that the war had made the world a safer place. "Sorry to say it doesn't look that way. If the message was to terrorists that we are willing to take you on, then that has not succeeded. In Iraq, it has bred a lot of terrorism and a lot of hatred to the Western world," he told an audience of 1,200 at NYU. "Disarmament by war and democracy by occupation are difficult prospects." He was especially critical of the United States and Britain for claiming the war was meant to uphold U.N. resolutions when the rest of the Security Council refused to back the conflict and he said Bush and Blair "oversold" what they knew. By May I knew there was nothing because the Americans had interrogated so many Iraqis by then and even offered money and still they found nothing. -- Hans Blix, former U.N. weapons inspector "The moral of this story was clearly a loss of credibility for the leaders of this war and that they didn't think the council mattered, that was a mistake," Blix said. Referring to passages from his book, the 75-year-old Swede identified Vice President Dick Cheney as his No. 1 opponent inside the Bush administration. In a meeting with Mr. Cheney in October 2002, Blix said he was told the United States 'was ready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament,' unless Blix's teams were able to find weapons the White House insisted were in Iraq. Blix's return to the United States, after nine months in Sweden working on the book, was triumphant compared to his quiet departure last June, which was marred by a U.S. refusal to let his inspectors back into Iraq. Blix spent Monday appearing on TV talk shows and signing copies of his book, which came out this week in the United States. At NYU, he was introduced by faculty members as a "real-life hero," "unbiased and critical," and his comments drew rounds of thunderous applause during his two hour appearance. It was a striking contrast to the contentious appearances he made in the U.N. Security Council in the months leading up to the war. At that time, he was often criticized as pro-Iraqi or anti-American because his teams were coming up empty and refusing to blame Saddam for their failures. Blix said he had been convinced for years that the Iraqis were hiding weapons of mass destruction but began having doubts when intelligence provided by the United States and other countries wasn't producing results. He blamed an over-reliance on defectors and a refusal on the part of the White House to consider the possibility that the intelligence was wrong.