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Wednesday, December 03, 2003  

The War Lies

Among Cheney's misdeeds, the war lies are the most perplexing. While the Vice President's words were among the most convincing in the lead-up to the war, they were also the most pointedly inaccurate. He didn't equivocate. When making points, he said things like, "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." But what looked Machiavellian before the war looked bizarre afterwards. Cheney continued to make similar assertions. At one point, members of the Bush administration actually had to correct him publicly. Although he made a number of very serious, unproven claims, below are the examples of his two most egregious: that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons and that al Qaida was connected to Iraq.

Iraq has connections with al Qaida
Before the war, the White House suggested a connection between the al Qaida terror network and Saddam Hussein's regime. Dick Cheney was at the fore in asserting this argument. Then, after the war, he continued to make the assertion. Below is what he told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" on September 14, 2003.

We don’t know. You and I talked about this two years ago. I can remember you asking me this question just a few days after the original attack. At the time I said no, we didn’t have any evidence of that. Subsequent to that, we’ve learned a couple of things. We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the ’90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW and CW, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved. The Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaeda organization.

We know, for example, in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of ’93. And we’ve learned subsequent to that, since we went into Baghdad and got into the intelligence files, that this individual probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven.

Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93? We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did, in fact, receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact. With respect to 9/11, of course, we’ve had the story that’s been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we’ve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.

It was such an outrageous lie that in the next few days, members of his own administration, including President Bush, were forced to directly repudiate him.

Bush: "No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th."

Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld: "I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that."

National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice: "We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9-11. What we have said is that this is someone who supported terrorists, helped to train them (and) was a threat in this region that we were not prepared to tolerate."

Iraq has Nuclear Weapons
During the buildup, Cheney constantly beat the drum for Iraq possessing or being almost able to possess nukes. He didn’t call them a possibility, he used the clear language of "we know."

"We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons."

"There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

"We know he's reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War."

"We know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda organization."

"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." (He later said he meant "nuclear weapons programs.") [Source: Boston Globe.]

But when pressed on it by Russert in the September 2003 interview, he admitted:

"Yeah, I did misspeak. I said repeatedly during the show 'weapons capability.' We never had any evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon."

posted by Jeff | 8:01 AM |
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