Cheney: every word a lie?

Speaking her nemesis Lillian Hellman, the great Mary McCarthy once said that "Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the."

Might the same be true of the utterances of our vice president? The Washington Post reports (linked in headline) that well before the war, the U.S. intelligence community had debunked talk of a Saddam Hussein/Al Qaeda link. (Saddam was a staunch secularist, despised by fanatically religious Al Qaeda higher-ups.) But Cheney is still trying to make hay out of the discredited link. You have to wonder if this fellow won't someday do time.

Here's the Post:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

A report criticizes an intelligence assessment by the office of Douglas Feith, then a Pentagon official, before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.


Paul Hue said...

Tom: Your dad loved Lillian Hellman, at least as an author, but apparently she was something of a Stalin supporter.

Hussein was a "staunch secularist", eh? So why after the '91 war did he add Koranic text to the Iraqi flag, and increasingly participate in Islamic public rituals?

Al Qaidis hated him because their brand of tyranny requires 100% adherence to the worst portions of islamic superstition; and he hated them because his form of tyranny requires everyone essentially to treat him as the new Mohammad (the first Islamic tyrant and terrorist).

But they both hated two entities more than they hated each other: the US and Israel. Al Qaida never hated Hussein enough to attack him, as its members have attacked the US and the Iraqi democratic government enabled by the US. To the contrary, Hussein welcomed some Qaidis to reside in Iraq prior to 911, and they lived there safely and without causing Husein problems.

It was conceivable that as US troops fought Al Qaida at its base in Afghanistan that Hussein would assist them. The only thing that "US intelligences disproved" as the possibility that Hussein and Al Qaida were prior to 911 working formally together in very substantial ways. They both worked against the US, Isreal, and any efforts to have civilization in Arabia, that is for sure, making their primary and immediate goals mutual.

Paul Hue said...

Tom: You and Nadir simply assume and declare that everything that Bush and Cheney say is a complete lie; not only false, but a falsehood known to them. Yet for most of such claims, I find areas of interpretation, with different sources reaching conflicting opinions, and you and Nadir cherry-picking the sources that contradict Bush/Cheney, and declaring that those source are 100% infallibly accurate. You guys don't even leave room for the possibility that these sources might be less than conclusive or that the other sources might have some accuracy.

That is why I give you guys limited credibility. Having you guys cry, "Bush lied!", carries zero weight with me; you will say that every single time Bush opens his mouth. Take WMD: was it even *possible* for Bush to know with 100% certainty that Iraq possessed zero WMDs before he invaded? Was it possible for him to know with 100% certainty that Hussein had not tried to arrange yellow cake purchases from Niger?

No, it was not. I can understand why this or that intelligence agency or agent concluded that Iraq lacked WMD or had not attempted a yellow cake purchase, but not any such entity knowing with 100% bet-the-house certainty that an invasion would find zero WMDs. Some independent agencies and agents expected Bush's invasion to uncover WMDs, though I don't know if any guaranteed with 100% certainty. Do you really believe that Bush & Cheney believed that they would find none? For them to have "lied" they must have been 100% certain that they would find none!

It amazes me that with the powers and enormity that you guys assign to Bush and Cheny that it does not cause you guys to reconsider your views given that they did not plant WMDs in Iraq. You guys consider it possible that bush/Cheney staged 911 (but without planting clear-cut evidence linking the patsies to Hussein!), but wouldn't guys with that capability (both procedural and moral) find it much easier to plant a few lousy WMDs? Or maybe I simply overlook the extra capacity of stupidity that you guys assign them:

1. Evil enough to plan 911, powerful enough to pull it off.... but too stupid to remember to give the patsies Iraqi passports and phony documents linking their actions to Hussein directives.

2. Evil enough to "lie" about WMD (and even 911!), powerful enough implement the invasion (and 911!), but too stupid to remember to have some agents plant WMD.

Nadir has said several times to me, "I keep waiting for Bush to plant the WMD". In other words, Bush is always wrong: evil, lying or evil. If he doesn't find WMD, he lied. If he does find WMD, they're clearly plants.

A much more likely scenario exists, and because it's more likely than your lying hypothesis, I think it accurately describes reality. Bush and Cheney believed that Hussein had WMD, based on their survey of various contradicting intelligence reports.

But either they were wrong, or during the one-year war build-up, Hussein smuggled the goods into Syria.

Tom Philpott said...

I reject 9/11 conspiracy theories. But is there really any doubt that Bush/Cheney trumped up (or "sexed up," to use the phrase of their British allies) the intelligence around WMD? Or that they wildly exaggerated the Al Qeada/Hussein link?

No, I don;t think there is. Please see the Downing Street memo.

Paul Hue said...

I do believe that the Bushies trumped up their claims, and I fault them for this. I believe that they should have acknowledged the existence of doubt, and the lack of absolute 100% concrete proof. In the areas of WMD's existence, support of Al Qaida, the interest in Arab Iraqis in democracy, and the capacity of democracy to eradicate terror, I think that they should qualified their remarks.

In other areas, 100% concrete proof did exist, such as the numerous violations of various planks of the '92 cease-fire agreement. But of course, the only reason that we care about these violations are the factors for which we lack 100% certainty.

But you guys -- you and Nadir -- are just as certain that Bush is and was lying. That seems to me as unjustifiable as were Bush's claims of certainty.

Paul Hue said...

Was the terror connection not exaggerated?
Christopher Hithcens

Not by much. The Bush administration never claimed that Iraq had any hand in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But it did point out, at different times, that Saddam had acted as a host and patron to every other terrorist gang in the region, most recently including the most militant Islamist ones. And this has never been contested by anybody. The action was undertaken not to punish the last attack—that had been done in Afghanistan—but to forestall the next one.

Tom Philpott said...

" The Bush administration never claimed that Iraq had any hand in the events of Sept. 11, 2001." That's revisonism, or at least letting them getting away with a lawyerly form of non-lying which amounts to lying. They strongly suggested that Iraq and Al Qeada were directly linked, as Cheney is still doing. And they explicitly pitched the Iraq invasion as a response to 9/11. It's no wonder that as late as a year ago, most Americans thought Saddam Hussein had instigated 9/11. (People have since wised up--and they're pissed off.) Here is where the Bush admin exhibits fascist tendencies: manipulating the public into buying false premises for launching an invasion of another country.

Nadir said...


If you recognize that Bush/Cheney sexed up the evidence of WMDs, why do you still defend their actions?

Paul Hue said...

Tom: Linking Hussein to Al Qaida does not equate to linking Hussein directly to every Al Qaida action. On 911 and through to the day of Bush's invasion, Al Qaida officials lived unmolested in Iraq. That is merely one example of authentic linkage between these two tyrannical, anti-US, international terrorist outfits.

Yes, the Bushies "pitched" the Iraq invasion as a "response to 911". That does not mean that they blamed Hussein directly for 911. If you read Bush's official statements to both the US congress and US voters, as well as to the UN assembly on this matter, you will find that he very clearly stated that in the wake of 911 neither the US nor the UN should any longer tolerate the existence of Hussein's government, for a variety of reasons. None of them included an accusation that Hussein planned, implemented, or in anyway directly supported the 911 attack.

Anybody who believes that Hussein was directly responsible for 911 based on Bush's comments has a reading comprehension problem.

Paul Hue said...

Nadir: I do not defend the Bushies for "sexing up" the WMD claims. To the contrary, as I have stated here many times and very clearly, I fault them for not articulating more accurately what they knew, didn't know, and suspected. Instead, they acted like politicians always do, which is to reach their conclusion, then sell their conclusion.

But the decision to invade, and the prospect of replacing one of Arabia's most powerful tyrannies with a democracy, is too complicated and important an issue for my decision to rest upon this one factor.

Like you and Tom, had Bush stated this aspect of his case the way that I would have liked, it would not have changed my mind (me for, you two against).

Nadir said...

"Al Qaida officials lived unmolested in Iraq"

Prove this.

Nadir said...

"Yes, the Bushies "pitched" the Iraq invasion as a "response to 911"."


"I fault them for not articulating more accurately what they knew, didn't know, and suspected. Instead, they acted like politicians always do, which is to reach their conclusion, then sell their conclusion."

So you admit that they sold you (and you're still sold) though the evidence and their statements contradict them.

Paul is drinking the neocon kool-aid and having the cookies to boot!

Pete McAlpine said...

Interesting how the problem of WMD proliferation is glossed over. Many believed and still believe with scientific justification, the THE WOLRD CANNOT SURVICE nuclear proliferation. If that is true, each and every proliferating or potentially proliferating regime SHOULD BE DESTROYED by whatever means necessary. Nitpicking how it was done and "heaven forbid" possible "lies" in the process is TOTALLY ABSURD! Surprise nuclear attack is the only sure method of stopping proliferation.