Follow the changing storyline. If you can!
The bottom line question for me was: How many additional American lives is Saddam Hussein worth? The answer: not very damn many.
MR. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors — confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: 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 from interrogating detainees in Guantanamo [ED’s NOTE: THAT MEANS TORTURE] that al Qaida sent individuals to Baghdad to be trained in C.W. and B.W. technology, chemical and biological weapons technology. These are all matters that are there for anybody who wants to look at it. A lot of it has been declassified. More, I’m sure, will be declassified in the future, and my expectation would be as we get the time. We haven’t really had the time yet to pore through all those records in Baghdad. We’ll find ample evidence confirming the link, that is the connection if you will between al Qaida and the Iraqi intelligence services. They have worked together on a number of occasions.
“I continue to believe — I think there’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I’m very confident that there was an established relationship there.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, and he said media reports suggesting that the 9/11 commission has reached a contradictory conclusion were “irresponsible.”
MR. RUSSERT: Then why, in the lead-up to the war, was there the constant linkage between Iraq and al-Qaeda?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: That’s a different issue. Now, there’s a question of whether or not al-Qaeda, or whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11. There’s a separate—apart from that’s the issue of whether or not there was a historic relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The basis for that is probably best captured in George Tenet’s testimony before the Senate Intel Commission, an open session, where he said specifically that there was a pattern of relationship that went back at least a decade between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
MR. RUSSERT: But the president said they were working in concert, giving the strong suggestion to the American people that they were involved in September 11th.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. There are, there are two totally different propositions here, and people have consistently tried to confuse them. And it’s important, I think—there’s a third proposition, as well, too, and that is Iraq’s traditional position as a strong sponsor of terror.
Cheney contended that al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion led by U.S. forces and that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda. Others in al-Qaeda planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June,” Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. “As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.”
“This long-term struggle became urgent on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. That day we clearly saw that dangers can gather far from our own shores and find us right there at home,” said Cheney, who was accompanied by his wife, Lynne, and their daughter, Elizabeth.
“So the United States made a decision: to hunt down the evil of terrorism and kill it where it grows, to hold the supporters of terror to account and to confront regimes that harbor terrorists and threaten the peace,” Cheney said. “Understanding all the dangers of this new era, we have no intention of abandoning our friends or allowing this country of 170,000 square miles to become a staging area for further attacks against Americans.”
We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
“On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” Cheney said during an interview Monday night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.
I’m so glad we got that cleared up.
Look, I don’t know why liberal blogs are feeling like Cheney has been caught in some kind of “gotcha” moment here.
The problem is that Cheney has always said that Iraq was a state sponsor of terror, so whether Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 or not didn’t matter because he was still dangerous. But what the national conversation has always been about is whether Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. When the country readied for war in Iraq, when we invaded Iraq, when we lost our blood and treasure in Iraq, it was always understood that this was in retaliation for 9/11.
Cheney has repeatedly said that Saddam as a “state sponsor of terror” and “Saddam as involved in 9/11 attacks” are two totally separate issues and that “people have consistently tried to confuse them.” Gee, I wonder why that is. Maybe because the Bush Administration wanted the two to be confused, perhaps? I mean, come on, already.
I have no doubt that Cheney, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest were purposely being ambiguous on this point, and the media was too gah-gah over the swell of manhood stuffed into flightsuits that they played along. Now that it looks like some indictments might be in order and an Administration’s legacy is at stake, Cheney and co. want to have it both ways, to say look, we never said there was a definitive connection between Saddam and 9/11. That may be technically true but you sure as hell implied it, and you did so on purpose so you could take out your oil rival in the Middle East. And the media played right along.
The Iraq War has always been about the money and Republican power hoarding. Hell, most if not all wars are always about the money and power hoarding. But this one has been brazenly, openly, shamefully about the money and maintaining a Republican majority. You can see the loudest rhetoric linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11 came before the 2004 and 2006 elections. If you read the transcripts carefully, especially Cheney’s Sept. 10, 2006 appearance on Meet The Press, it becomes patently obvious. Cheney is dancing on the head of a pin in this MTP appearance, (and I always thought Tim Russert did superb job of grilling Cheney in this particular interview), and even he seems to be having trouble balancing his arguments.