Tuesday, July 22, 2014

17 reasons not to trust Dick Cheney on Iraq

Area man consistently as wrong about Iraq as it is possible to be wrong about Iraq. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that Barack Obama is insufficiently tough on Iraq, and was wrong to "abandon" the country. They also took to Fox News to announce they were starting a new organization, the Alliance for a Strong America, that will "advocate for the policies needed to restore American power and pre-eminence."

You might be tempted to take their opinions seriously. This would be a mistake. Here are seventeen reasons why.

1) "[9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack."

- Dick Cheney, December 9, 2001.

Atta did not meet with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. Cheney knew this claim was unsubstantiated but made it publicly anyway. Also Czechoslovakia was not a country in April 2001.

2) "The issue is that [Saddam] has chemical weapons."

- Dick Cheney, March 24, 2002.

No he did not.

3) "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

- Dick Cheney, August 25, 2002.

Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction then.

4) "Another argument holds that opposing Saddam Hussein would cause even greater troubles in that part of the world, and interfere with the larger war against terror. I believe the opposite is true."

- Dick Cheney, August 25, 2002.

The Iraq War was a catastrophe that caused even greater troubles, including hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees, in that part of the world. It also harmed the war on terror.

5) "We do know, with absolute certainty, that [Saddam] is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon."

- Dick Cheney, September 8, 2002.

Not only was this false, especially the "absolute certainty" part, Cheney likely knew it to be false at the time he said it; the intelligence community was in fact divided about the state of Iraq's nuclear program.

6) "[Saddam] now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs…Specifically aluminum tubes."

- Dick Cheney, September 8, 2002.

The tubes were for rockets. Department of Energy analysts raised doubts more than a year before Cheney made these claims about the likelihood the tubes were for enrichment.

7) "We know that [Saddam Hussein] has re-energized, if you will, his efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon."

- Dick Cheney, September 9, 2002.

The Iraq Survey Group concluded after a thorough investigation that "Saddam Hussein ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program."

8) "We now have irrefutable evidence that [Saddam] has once again set up and reconstituted his program to take uranium, to enrich it to sufficiently high grade, so that it will function as the base material as a nuclear weapon. And there's no doubt about the fact that the level of effort has escalated in recent months."

- Dick Cheney, September 20, 2002.

Cheney knew there was not "irrefutable evidence," as the intelligence community was divided. And reality subsequently refuted the claim entirely.

9) "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."

- Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003.

We were not greeted as liberators.

10) "[Saddam] also had an established relationship with al Qaeda — providing training to al Qaeda members in areas of poisons, gases and conventional bombs."

- Dick Cheney, October 17, 2003.

A 2006 Senate intelligence committee report concluded, "Postwar findings support the April 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment that there was no credible reporting on al-Qa'eda training at Salman Pak or anywhere else in Iraq."

11) "In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda, and his regime is no more."

- Dick Cheney, November 7, 2003.

There was no such relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

12) "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 Qaeda and the Iraqi intelligence services. They have worked together on a number of occasions."

- Dick Cheney, January 9, 2004.

Again, there was no such relationship between al Qaeda and the Iraqi intelligence services.

13) "We know, for example, that prior to our going in that [Saddam] had spent time and effort acquiring mobile biological weapons labs, and we're quite confident he did, in fact, have such a program. We've found a couple of semi trailers at this point which we believe were, in fact, part of that program. I would deem that conclusive evidence, if you will, that he did, in fact, have programs for weapons of mass destruction."

- Dick Cheney, January 22, 2004.

A British investigation concluded those "mobile biological weapons labs" were nothing of the sort. The Iraq Survey group report states, "ISG has found no evidence to support the view that the trailers were used, or intended to be used, for the production of [biological warfare] agents."

14) "It’s clearly established in terms of training, provision of bomb-making experts, training of people with respect to chemical and biological warfare capabilities, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Iraq for training and so forth."

- Dick Cheney, June 4, 2004.

Again, not only was that not true, but the DIA and others in the intelligence community questioned it before the war began.

15) "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

- Dick Cheney, June 20, 2005.

Anti-Iraqi government insurgency persists nine years later.

16) "I don’t think that [the war in Iraq] damaged our reputation around the world."

- Dick Cheney, August 30, 2011.

The Iraq war drastically damaged our reputation around the world.

17) "The biggest threat we face is the possibility of terrorist groups like al Qaeda equipped with weapons of mass destruction, with nukes, bugs or gas. That was the threat after 9/11 and when we took down Saddam Hussein we eliminated Iraq as a potential source of that."

- Dick Cheney, October 28, 2013.

The Iraq war took away zero weapons of mass destruction from a regime that did not have ties to al-Qaeda.

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