Sunday, September 14, 2003

Total B.S.

From the Meet the Press transcript of the interview of Dick Cheney:

Transcript   Our comments
MR. RUSSERT: Has this nation recovered from September 11, 2001?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think in many respects, recovered, yes. On the other hand, there are some things that’ll never be the same.
       And I’m not sure everybody has made that transition yet. I think there are a number of people out there who hope we can go back to pre-9/11 days and that somehow 9/11 was an aberration. It happened one time; it’ll never happen again. But the president and I don’t have that luxury.
  We hold the view that something like 9/11 is extremely unlikely. While we think al-Qaeda is a meanace, all that it has is the ability to detonate truck and car bombs. They do not have any weapons other than rifles and RPGs. The destruction of the World Trade Towers was a fluke.
MR. RUSSERT: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think it’s not surprising that people make that connection.
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, 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.

Some, but not 9/11 related

One of the '93 bombers was Iraqi:


Atta in Prague:

Highly suspect, and should not be mentioned by senior officials unless it is near-certain.

MR. RUSSERT: We could establish a direct link between the hijackers of September 11 and Saudi Arabia.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We know that many of the attackers were Saudi. There was also an Egyptian in the bunch. It doesn’t mean those governments had anything to do with that attack.
  Yet seconds earlier Cheney noted that one of the '93 bombers was an Iraqi.
MR. RUSSERT: There are reports that the investigation Congress did does show a link between the Saudi government and the hijackers but that it will not be released to the public.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t know want to speculate on that, Tim, partly because I was involved in reviewing those pages. It was the judgment of our senior intelligence officials, both CIA and FBI that that material needed to remain classified. At some point, we may be able to declassify it, but there are ongoing investigations that might be affected by that release, and for that reason, we kept it classified.
  Might be?
MR. RUSSERT: Vanity Fair magazine reports that about 140 Saudis were allowed to leave the United States the day after the 11th, allowed to leave our airspace and were never investigated by the FBI and that departure was approved by high-level administration figures. Do you know anything about that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t, but a lot of folks from that part of the world left in the aftermath of 9/11 because they were worried about public reaction here in the United States or that somehow they might be discriminated against.

Letting the bin Laden family out of the U.S. because they were worried they might be discriminated against? Who believes that?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: ... So we have had, especially since the attacks of Riyadh in May of this year from the Saudi government, great support and cooperation in going after terrorists, especially al-Qaeda. [...] And the Saudis have been, as I say in the last several months, very good partners in helping us go after the people in the al-Qaeda organization.   Some friends. They didn't do squat until they were attacked.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the situation in Iraq. [...] We had lost 138 soldiers before May 1, and 685 wounded, injured. Since that time, since the president came on the carrier and said major combat was over, we’ve lost 158, and 856 wounded and injured. Those numbers are pretty troubling.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: [...] Remember, we lost 3,000 people here on 9/11.
  Conflating 9/11 with Iraq.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: [...] We’ve got Iraqis now in charge of each ministry in the government. We’ve got 90 percent—over 90 percent of the cities and towns and villages of Iraq are now governed by democratically elected or appointed local councils.   Appointed by whom?
MR. RUSSERT: [...] In a report that underscores the stress being place on the military by the occupation of Iraq, the CBO said the Army’s goals of keeping the same number of troops in Iraq and limiting tours of duty there to a year while maintaining its current presence elsewhere in the world were impossible to sustain without activating more National Guard or Reserve units.”
       Can we keep 150,000 troops beyond next spring without, in effect, breaking the Army?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Tim, we can do what we have to do to prevail in this conflict. Failure’s not an option. And go back again and think about what’s involved here. This is not just about Iraq or just about the difficulties we might encounter in any one part of the country in terms of restoring security and stability. This is about a continuing operation on the war on terror.
[...] If we’re successful in Iraq, if we can stand up a good representative government in Iraq, that secures the region so that it never again becomes a threat to its neighbors or to the United States, so it’s not pursuing weapons of mass destruction, so that it’s not a safe haven for terrorists, now we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.
  Does that mean a draft in our future?

More conflating 9/11 with Iraq.

Iraq was not the geographic base of the terrorists. Afghanistan was.

MR. RUSSERT: So the resistance in Iraq is coming from those who were responsible for 9/11?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I was careful not to say that. With respect to 9/11, 9/11, as I said at the beginning of the show, changed everything. [...] America’s going to be safer and more secure in the years ahead when we complete the task in Iraq successfully, and we will complete it successfully. And whatever the cost is, in terms of casualties or financial resources, it’s a whale of a lot less than trying to recover from the next attack in the United States.
  We doubt that the cost of being in Iraq will be "a whale of a lot less" than an attack in the United States - which we think is extremely unlikely. As noted above, al-Qaeda has limited capabilities.
MR. RUSSERT: You also told me, Mr. Vice President, in March that you thought Saddam would be captured or killed, turned in by his own people. Why hasn’t that happened if they view us as liberators?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, we’re working on it, and we’ll continue to work on it. His sons were turned in by the Iraqi people.
  Wasn't it just one guy?
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Ambassador Joe Wilson, a year before that, was sent over by the CIA because you raised the question about uranium from Africa. He says he came back from Niger and said that, in fact, he could not find any documentation that, in fact, Niger had sent uranium to Iraq or engaged in that activity and reported it back to the proper channels. Were you briefed on his findings in February, March of 2002?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson.
  The Wilson mission was triggered by a request from the Vice President's office.
MR. RUSSERT: If [the intelligence agencies] were wrong, Mr. Vice President, shouldn’t we have a wholesale investigation into the intelligence failure that they predicted...
VICE PRES. CHENEY: What failure?
MR. RUSSERT: That Saddam had biological, chemical and is developing a nuclear program.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: My guess is in the end, they’ll be proven right, Tim.
  How long does one have to wait? One year? Five years? To say that "in the end" we will be proven right is a way of postponing any judgement on any policy.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: [...] How do you explain why Saddam Hussein, if he had no program, wouldn’t come clean and say, “I haven’t got a program. Come look”? Then he would have sanctions lifted.   False. The U.S. government position was not to lift sanctions unless Saddam was removed from power.
MR. RUSSERT: If you froze the tax cut for the top 1 percent of Americans, it would generate enough money to pay for the $87 billion for the war, if you did it for just one year. Would you consider that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I think it’d be a mistake, because you can’t look at that without considering what its impact would be on the economy. An awful lot of the returns in that top bracket are small businesses, and they provide an awful lot of the job growth in this economy.
  If they are in the top bracket, then it's not a small business anymore. And anyway, we suspect that an overwhelming majority of top earners are executives at big companies. (And what does an "awful lot" mean anyway? Absolute numbers? Percentage?)
MR. RUSSERT: What happened to Dick Cheney, deficit hawk.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: [...] I am a deficit hawk. So is the president.
  Has Bush said anything that would make us think he's a deficit hawk? We can't recall any instance.
MR. RUSSERT: But we see deficits for the next 10 years, big ones. How do you deal with that, when you have Social Security, Medicare, coming up?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We anticipate even with the added spending that we’ve asked for now we’ll cut the deficit roughly in half from where it’ll be next year over the next five years. So we’ll be moving in the right direction.
  So now it's the direction that matters, not the actual numbers. Try telling that to your bank or credit card company ("I'm short this month, but here's a small payment in the right direction.")
MR. RUSSERT: What do you think of the Democratic field?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Haven’t really, frankly, paid a hell of a lot of attention to it, Tim. I’m awful busy with my normal day job.


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