The Selling of the Iraq War: The First Casualty
Just as the trial took years, the Iraq War has dragged on for an like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, continue to insist the war was Like any murder trial, the Blackwater trial can't make the victims or Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speak at a meeting in February. The value of good journalism. President Bush bears ultimate responsibility for the War in Iraq, as do But Dick Cheney's role in the run-up to war was uniquely irresponsible and mendacious. .. a push that was articulated on their first day in office, long before 9/11, Congress and the public whom his energy task force had met with. In Iraq, six months ago, the war began with shock and awe. Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on MEET THE PRESS: (Videotape, March 16): . You'd like to be able do everything casualty-free. When you think about.
And we share common cause on the matter of servicemen whose fate is still undetermined. For all the uncertainties that remain, the basic issue is clear: The nation remembers these men, and this government will persist in the effort to account for every last one of them.
As we meet all of these commitments, our administration is moving forward on an agenda to build a safe and prosperous future for the American people. We have laid the foundation for greater prosperity and opportunity with the most significant education reforms in 35 years, with free trade legislation to open up markets to American producers, with tough new laws to ensure corporate integrity and honest accounting, with spending discipline in Washington and with the largest federal tax reduction in twenty years.
There is a full agenda for the fall, and beyond. Yet the President and I never for a moment forget our number one responsibility: The danger to America requires action on many fronts all at once.
Transcript for Sept. 14
We are reorganizing the federal government to protect the nation against further attack. The new Department of Homeland Security will gather under one roof the capability to identify threats, to check them against our vulnerabilities, and to move swiftly to protect the nation. At the same time, we realize that wars are never won on the defensive.
We must take the battle to the enemy. We will take every step necessary to make sure our country is secure, and we will prevail. But as Secretary Rumsfeld has put it, we are still closer to the beginning of this war than we are to its end. The United States has entered a struggle of years -- a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy.
The terrorists who struck America are ruthless, they are resourceful, and they hide in many countries. They came into our country to murder thousands of innocent men, women, and children. There is no doubt they wish to strike again, and that they are working to acquire the deadliest of all weapons. Against such enemies, America and the civilized world have only one option: In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime and al Qaeda terrorists have met the fate they chose for themselves.
And they saw, up-close and personal, the new methods and capabilities of America's armed services. May I say, as a former Secretary of Defense, that I have never been more proud of the America's military. The combination of advantages already seen in this conflict -- precision power from the air, real-time intelligence, special forces, the long reach of Naval task forces, and close coordination with local forces represents a dramatic advance in our ability to engage and defeat the enemy.
These advantages will only become more vital in future campaigns. President Bush has often spoken of how America can keep the peace by redefining war on our terms. That means that our armed services must have every tool to answer any threat that forms against us.
It means that any enemy conspiring to harm America or our friends must face a swift, a certain and a devastating response. As always in America's armed forces, the single most important asset we have is the man or woman who steps forward and puts on the uniform of this great nation. Much has been asked of our military this past year, and more will be asked in the months and the years ahead.
Those who serve are entitled to expect many things from us in return. They deserve the very best weapons, the best equipment, the best support, and the best training we can possibly provide them.
And under President Bush they will have them all. And for the good of the nation's military families, he has also asked Congress to provide every person in uniform a raise in pay. We think they've earned it. In this war we've assembled a broad coalition of civilized nations that recognize the danger and are working with us on all fronts. The President has made very clear that there is no neutral ground in the fight against terror.
Those who harbor terrorists share guilt for the acts they commit. Under the Bush Doctrine, a regime that harbors or supports terrorists will be regarded as hostile to the United States. The Taliban has already learned that lesson, but Afghanistan was only the beginning of a lengthy campaign.
Were we to stop now, any sense of security we might have would be false and temporary. There is a terrorist underworld out there, spread among more than 60 countries. The job we have will require every tool at our means of diplomacy, of finance, of intelligence, of law enforcement, and of military power. But we will, over time, find and defeat the enemies of the United States. If he's not alive -- we already got him. Nine-eleven and its aftermath awakened this nation to danger, to the true ambitions of the global terror network, and to the reality that weapons of mass destruction are being sought by determined enemies who would not hesitate to use them against us.
It is a certainty that the al Qaeda network is pursuing such weapons, and has succeeded in acquiring at least a crude capability to use them. We found evidence of their efforts in the ruins of al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan. And we've seen in recent days additional confirmation in videos recently shown on CNN -- pictures of al Qaeda members training to commit acts of terror, and testing chemical weapons on dogs.
Those terrorists who remain at large are determined to use these capabilities against the United States and our friends and allies around the world. As we face this prospect, old doctrines of security do not apply. In the days of the Cold War, we were able to manage the threat with strategies of deterrence and containment. But it's a lot tougher to deter enemies who have no country to defend. And containment is not possible when dictators obtain weapons of mass destruction, and are prepared to share them with terrorists who intend to inflict catastrophic casualties on the United States.
The case of Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of our country, requires a candid appraisal of the facts. After his defeat in the Gulf War inSaddam agreed under to U. Security Council Resolution to cease all development of weapons of mass destruction.
He agreed to end his nuclear weapons program. He agreed to destroy his chemical and his biological weapons. He further agreed to admit U. In the past decade, Saddam has systematically broken each of these agreements. The Iraqi regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents. And they continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago. These are not weapons for the purpose of defending Iraq; these are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses, in his own region or beyond.
On the nuclear question, many of you will recall that Saddam's nuclear ambitions suffered a severe setback in when the Israelis bombed the Osirak reactor. They suffered another major blow in Desert Storm and its aftermath. But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we've gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors -- including Saddam's own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam's direction. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.
Just how soon, we cannot really gauge. Intelligence is an uncertain business, even in the best of circumstances. This is especially the case when you are dealing with a totalitarian regime that has made a science out of deceiving the international community. Let me give you just one example of what I mean. Prior to the Gulf War, America's top intelligence analysts would come to my office in the Defense Department and tell me that Saddam Hussein was at least five or perhaps even 10 years away from having a nuclear weapon.
After the war we learned that he had been much closer than that, perhaps within a year of acquiring such a weapon. Saddam also devised an elaborate program to conceal his active efforts to build chemical and biological weapons. And one must keep in mind the history of U. Even as they were conducting the most intrusive system of arms control in history, the inspectors missed a great deal.
Before being barred from the country, the inspectors found and destroyed thousands of chemical weapons, and hundreds of tons of mustard gas and other nerve agents. Yet Saddam Hussein had sought to frustrate and deceive them at every turn, and was often successful in doing so.
I'll cite one instance. During the spring ofthe inspectors were actually on the verge of declaring that Saddam's programs to develop chemical weapons and longer-range ballistic missiles had been fully accounted for and shut down. Then Saddam's son-in-law suddenly defected and began sharing information. Within days the inspectors were led to an Iraqi chicken farm. Hidden there were boxes of documents and lots of evidence regarding Iraq's most secret weapons programs.
That should serve as a reminder to all that we often learned more as the result of defections than we learned from the inspection regime itself. To the dismay of the inspectors, they in time discovered that Saddam had kept them largely in the dark about the extent of his program to mass produce VX, one of the deadliest chemicals known to man. And far from having shut down Iraq's prohibited missile programs, the inspectors found that Saddam had continued to test such missiles, almost literally under the noses of the U.
Against that background, a person would be right to question any suggestion that we should just get inspectors back into Iraq, and then our worries will be over. Saddam has perfected the game of cheat and retreat, and is very skilled in the art of denial and deception.
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A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow "back in his box. Nothing in the last dozen years has stopped him -- not his agreements; not the discoveries of the inspectors; not the revelations by defectors; not criticism or ostracism by the international community; and not four days of bombings by the U. What he wants is time and more time to husband his resources, to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons programs, and to gain possession of nuclear arms.
Should all his ambitions be realized, the implications would be enormous for the Middle East, for the United States, and for the peace of the world.
We do know that we are prepared and need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to make it work. There are funds frozen, Iraqi assets in various places in How much is all that?
Will the American people be asked for any more money? Advertise We have not tried to hide it under a bush. The president has been very direct. Democrats have written you letters and are suggesting profiteering by your former company Halliburton and this is how it was reported: Army Corps of Engineers, according to newly available documents.
The size and scope of the government contracts awarded to Halliburton in connection with the war in Iraq are significantly greater than was previously disclosed and demonstrate the U. Of course not, Tim. Tim, when I was secretary of Defense, I was not involved in awarding contracts. I never lobbied the Defense Department on behalf of Halliburton. The only time I went back to the department during those eight years was to have my portrait hung which is a traditional service rendered for former secretaries of Defense.
And as vice president, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the federal government, so Why is there no bidding? I have no idea. Go ask the Corps of Engineers. One of the things to keep in mind is that Halliburton is a unique kind of company. There are fine people working for it. I also have a lot of confidence in the people in the Department of Defense.
I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. We have not been greeted as liberated. Well, I think we have by most Iraqis.
I think the majority of Iraqis are thankful for the fact that the United States is there, that we came and we took down the Saddam Hussein government. People like Ahmed Chalabi, former Iraqis who came in and briefed—you talked about—did they sell us a bill of goods? I think they felt—certainly, they were advocates of the U. And I see and receive evidence on a fairly regular basis.
Zogby International did it with American Enterprise magazine. One of the questions it asked is: If you want to ask them do they want an Islamic government established, by 2: If you ask how long they want Americans to stay, over 60 percent of the people polled said they want the U.
You also told me, Mr. Vice President, in March that you thought Saddam would be captured or killed, turned in by his own people. His sons were turned in by the Iraqi people. Let me turn to weapons of mass destruction.
I asked you back in March what you thought was the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq. And the tie to terror. Well, I think that the jury is still out in terms of trying to get everything pulled together with respect to what we know. The reporting that led to the National Intelligence Estimate, upon which I based my statements to you, that was produced a year ago now, the essence of which has since been declassified, that was the product of hundreds of people working over probably 20 years, back at least to the Osirak reactor in The conclusions in that NIE, I think, are very valid.
And I think we will find that in fact they are valid. They knew they had to hide and bury their capabilities in this region inside their civilian structure. The judgment in the NIE was that if Saddam could acquire fissile material, weapons-grade material, that he would have a nuclear weapon within a few months to a year.
That was the judgment of the intelligence community of the United States, and they had a high degree of confidence in it. What do we know ahead? Well, we know he had worked on the program for 20 years. We know he had technicians who knew how do this stuff because they had been working on it over that period of time. We believed, the community believed, that he had a workable design for a bomb.
And we know he had tons of uranium. All those are facts that are basically not in dispute.
And we know Saddam had worked on that kind of system before. We had intelligence reporting before the war that there were at least seven of these mobile labs that he had gone out and acquired. But I want to talk about something very specific. That was in January. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors. And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree.
And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. ElBaradei, frankly, is wrong.
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And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq is concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I said repeatedly during the show weapons capability. We never had any evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon. 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 ? A question had arisen. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back. I guess the intriguing thing, Tim, on the whole thing, this question of whether or not the Iraqis were trying to acquire uranium in Africa.
In the British report, this week, the Committee of the British Parliament, which just spent 90 days investigating all of this, revalidated their British claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa. What was in the State of the Union speech and what was in the original British White papers. So there may be difference of opinion there. I have no idea who hired him and it never came This is what concerns people, that the administration hyped the intelligence, misled the American people.
This article from The Washington Post about pressuring from Cheney visits: In terms of asking questions, I plead guilty. I ask a hell of a lot of questions. This is a very important area. Maybe somebody can produce one. If they were wrong, Mr. That Saddam had biological, chemical and is developing a nuclear program. There are judgments involved in all of this. This was a crucial subject. It was extensively covered for years. As I say, the British just revalidated their claim.
I think in the final analysis, we will find that the Iraqis did have a robust program. Then he would have sanctions lifted. The Security Council by a to-nothing vote a year ago found him still in violation of those U. That makes no sense. It bears no resemblance to reality whatsoever. And in terms of asking questions, you bet I do. We have to take a quick break, be right back with more of our conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney and talk about the economy right after this.
More with the vice president after this quick station break. And we are back. Vice President, the economy and the Bush-Cheney record. The day you took office, Inauguration Day, as compared to now. Dow Jones is down 11 percent. Unemployment rate is up 49 percent. Jobs, net loss of 2.
The debt is up 20 percent and still growing. How can you run for re-election on that record? Would you consider that? 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. The president said in the tax cut would generatejobs; inhe said—be another million jobs.