As I said earlier today we're going to try to put our research energies for the rest of this week into compiling a detailed list of White House deceptions and lies in the lead up to war, along with a White House mendacity taxonomy distinguishing all the different flavors or deception, mistatement, exaggeration and generalized bamboozlement.
We've already got in almost 150 tips from readers for our list. And clearly cataloging all this mumbojumbo and dishonesty is going to be a time-consuming task. But while we're at it I just can't help passing on some gems.
Dick Cheney ever try to tell people Saddam might be behind 9/11?
Hmm, let's see ....
Russert: Do you still believe there's no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?
Cheney: Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that--it's been pretty well confirmed that he 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. Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don't know at this point, but that's clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.
That's from Meet the Press on December 9th, 2001. And remember, this was a claim that was floated and then rapidly discredited by, among other things, evidence that Atta was in the US at the time of the alleged meeting in Prague. The Czechs themselves eventually gave up on it.
A year later, Cheney was back at it again on Russert's show, for a chat on September 8th, 2002 ...
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I want to be very careful about how I say this. I'm not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can't say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. We've seen in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center. The debates about, you know, was he there or wasn't he there, again, it's the intelligence business.
Mr. RUSSERT: What does the CIA say about that? Is it credible?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: It's credible. But, you know, I think a way to put it would be it's unconfirmed at this point. We've got...
Then in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News on January 9th, 2004 ...
On the separate issue, on the 9/11 question, we've never had confirmation one way or another. We did have reporting that was public, that came out shortly after the 9/11 attack, provided by the Czech government, suggesting there had been a meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker, and a man named al-Ani (Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani), who was an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, at the embassy there, in April of '01, prior to the 9/11 attacks. It has never been -- we've never been able to collect any more information on that. That was the one that possibly tied the two together to 9/11.
Cheney just couldn't help spreading the Atta-in-Prague canard every chance he got and floating what were at best intentionally misleading claims about not being able to confirm one way or another whether Saddam was behind 9/11. Except, that is, when he denied saying anything about an Atta meeting in Prague. Or well ... let's go to Gloria Borger interviewing the veep in June 17th, 2004 ...
BORGER: Well, let's get to Mohamed Atta for a minute because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, "pretty well confirmed."
Vice Pres. CHENEY: No, I never said that.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I never said that.
BORGER: I think that is...
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Absolutely not. What I said was the Czech intelligence service reported after 9/11 that Atta had been in Prague on April 9 of 2001, where he allegedly met with an Iraqi intelligence official. We have never been able to confirm that nor have we been able to knock it down, we just don't know.
BORGER: Well, this report says it didn't happen.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: No, this report says they haven't found any evidence.
BORGER: That it happened.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Right.
BORGER: But you haven't found the evidence that it happened either, have you?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: No. All we have is that one report from the Czechs. We just don't know.
Did Dick Cheney ever say anything misleading about Saddam and al Qaida and 9/11, anything he knew wasn't true? Face it. It's not even close. Really, it's an indictment of the state of our public discourse that it's even much of a debate at this late moment. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Like I said a couple days ago, let's unpack all the transcripts. Get it all out there. What everybody and anybody said. These guys are just as guilty as sin.