Sunday, June 20, 2004

Cheney's Remaining Threads Cover Only His Willful Dupes

Vice Regent Cheney continues to maintain his assertion regarding the connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In light of the fidings of the 9/11 commission he has been pushed into a corner to clearly articulate those links. CNBC's Gloria Borger of 'Capital Report' interveiwed the VR and got him to do just that. The result leaves no doubt that Administration claims of a connection justifying war were far too broad and unqualified. In short, those claims where hot air and little else. The American public has been mislead into belief in a connection that does not exist, and Cheney's interview with Borger proves it. He leaves himself a fig leaf of uncertainty, but the the operational connection between Saddam and al Qaeda is debunked. The VR's case consists of nothing but ambiguity distilled into doubt, spun into supposition, then frozen into certainty. They lied and it is only a matter of time before the final tenuous threads of uncertainty from which the Administration is hanging are snipped by determined investigations both inside and outside the beltway.

I hope.

Here are the relevant portions of the transcript [Ed note: there is a persistent error in the transcript; the Vice Regent is consistently refered to as the Vice President for some reason.]:

Vice Pres. CHENEY: Gloria, the notion that there is no relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida just simply is not true. I'm going to read this material here. Your show isn't long enough for me to read all the pieces...

BORGER: Sure it is.

Vice Pres. CHENEY: ...but in the fall of '95 and again in the summer of '96, bin Laden met with Iraqi intelligence service representatives at his farm in Sudan. Bin Laden asked for terror training from Iraq. The Iraqi intelligence service responded. It deployed a bomb-making expert, a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence.

BORGER: OK, but now just let me stop you there, because what this report says is that he was not given the support that he had asked for from Iraq, that he had requested all of these things but, in fact, did not get them.

Vice Pres. CHENEY: He got this. We know for a fact. This is from George Tenet's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 12th, 2003, etc. I mean, it's there. It's ...(unintelligible).


Unfortunately, we'll have to take the VR's word for it regarding this damning testimony by Tenet. The testimony to which Cheney refers was, and remains, classified - given to Congress in a closed session. The VR can hardly expect us to simply accept his word for it at this point. He flatly contradicts the Commission's findings. The Commission had access to Tenet's testimony, and likely the underlying data supporting Tenet's testimony, too, and they found the information not to be credible. Yet Cheney would have us accept his bare word and buy his pig in a poke against the Commission's advice. The Commission's political uglies aren't sitting on the block and they have inspected the VR's pig. They are much more likely to be unbiased and objective. Only the most brainless, ditto-headed, flag- humping Bushie would accept Cheney's assertion without any specific proofs. No doubt that is exactly what they'll do, and hound anyone who refuses to be a Willful Dupe.

If this investigation is no longer active, requiring limited access, he should attempt to have the testimony declassified and THEN refer to it. If he's not willing to give us the proof, he should shut up. The way the VP tosses off classified information as authority for his assertion is suspicious at best. "Oh, here's the proof... wait, you don't have a skull and bones ring, do you? Oh, sorry. If only you could see this wonderful cloth... er, evidence, you would know that I'm telling you the truth." Poppycock.

BORGER: Let me just ask you, bottom line, though, on 9/11...

Vice Pres. CHENEY: On 9/11...

BORGER: ...Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11?

Vice Pres. CHENEY: We have never been able to prove that there was a connection there on 9/11. The one thing we have is the Czech intelligence service report saying that Mohammad Atta had met with the senior Iraqi intelligence official at the embassy on April 9th, 2001. That's never been proven. It's never been refuted.


In other words, it is useless. Cheney has been flogging this horse for years now. And now he simply comes out and admits there is no proof except for this? The gall is unbearable.

Information you can't confirm or deny from a foriegn intelligence service, with no context or specifics, is quite simply useless. At best, it is the basis for an independent investigation, which apparently is what we did. Finding no supporting evidence means that the info is a bogey, not that it can be presumed to be true until 'knocked down' or refuted. Refutation implies that there is a presumption of credibility. There is no credibility to refute here. This sort of thin reed should never have been used to undergird the sort of statements Cheney has made on the subject.

In any rational world, Cheney just admitted he was lying through his teeth. In Bush world, Cheney will be seen as having successfully defended his statements. And in the Pentagon world, absence of evidence doesn't imply evidence of absence. But it sure does to the real world. Our intel people followed up and were unable to confirm the Czech report. Responsible people would stop using rumors as the basis for the foriegn policy of a great nation. Responsible people would stop feeding those rumors to the public from the authority of the Vice Regency. But people like the VR and his regime see the lack of facts as simply an opportunity to make up their own.

Our intel services were unable to confirm or deny. You have to wonder if that is even true. What if they never had any real incentive to pull on this string very hard? If it were known to someone in a position of authority that this report was a bogey, it would be impolitic indeed to unravel the cloth it's attached to, especially if that cloth were someone's last scrap of cover... their fig leaf, as it were. In any case, as this spectral thread is last remaining connection the Administration can produce proving a connection between Saddam and 9/11, they owe the nation a sincere appology for thier deception. But this Administration always plays it's bluffs out all the way, just in case something breaks their way unexpected. They never try to get out cheap once we're on to them - and why should they? They aren't playing with their own money - or thier own lives.

I hope some enterprising members of the Czech intelligence service speak up regarding this 'report', or an intrepid investigative reporter gets us some solid information about it. I hope a certain February, 2003 transcript is leaked or declassified. I hope a lot. But the simple fact is, I shouldn't have to hope for access to the truth.

We don't seem to be able to count on our own media, or even Congress, to ask the right questions or to press an inquiry until it strikes the boney facts. Too many backs are itch-free around Washington. The minimum a democratic government owes the electorate is the facts. Without facts a democratic system is not a mechanism for making decisions, it is system for measuring faith. Now that it is apparent that only a only a bit of classified testimony by George Tenet and an elusive and unconfirmed report by Czech intelligence stand between the us and the truth about the Adminsitration's assertions about Iraq and al Qaeda, I hope that the facts we need to evaluate those claims emerge into the public sphere. I trust the decisions of my fellow citizens will be wise when informed by the facts, but I have no desire to live under the tyranny of their faith.

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