Apparently the Vice-President of the United States can’t help lying to and deceiving the people he was elected to serve.
A harsh charge? Very. But I don’t see how the truth of the accusation can be denied after this exchange this morning with Tim Russert on Meet the Press …
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 itâs not surprising that people make that connection.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We donât 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 didnât have any evidence of that. Subsequent to that, weâve 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 â90s, 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 â93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of â93. And weâve 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 â93? 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, weâve had the story thatâs 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 weâve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just donât know.
We just don’t know …
Presumably Mr. Cheney is basing the veracity of this statement on the same principle by which he doesn’t know that I can’t bench press a thousand pounds.
Let’s take this one step at a time.
In two years the US intelligence and law enforcement communities have not been able to unearth a single piece of evidence tying the Iraqi regime to the 9/11 attacks.
In Cheney’s answer he reels off a series of allegations, most of which have either been positively discredited or remain wholly unsubstantiated. Even if each point were true — which, for the most part, they aren’t — they are clearly intended to muddy the issue by tossing out a variety of points not directly related to the question of Iraqi government involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
The one supposed piece of ‘evidence’, of course, is the alleged meeting between Mohamed Atta and a senior Iraqi intelligence official in the spring of 2001. But contrary to Mr. Cheney’s claim that “weâve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it,” US intelligence officials have thoroughly discredited that report. And it has even been denied by the Czechs. What’s more, as al Qaida expert Peter Bergen noted last month when he spoke with TPM, the US now has in custody the two Iraqi intelligence officials connected with this alleged incident.
As Bergen asked, “Don’t you think he knows his get-out-of-jail-free card to some degree is saying “Hey I did meet with Mohammed Atta”? He’s obviously not saying that, otherwise we’d know about it.”
The point is that there is simply no evidence whatsoever connecting the Iraqi regime with the 9/11 attacks. What’s more, it’s not as though we don’t know quite a lot about how the attacks were carried out. We know who the perpetrators were — both those in the planes and many in support roles. We know where the money came from. We know about their ties with al Qaida and bin Laden. We know a great many details about how this horrific attack happened. And none of them have led us back to Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi regime.
Even applying so low a standard as that by which we judge incidents with four-year-olds and cookie jars, Cheney’s statement that “we just don’t know” whether Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks is a lie.
Why do 69% of Americans continue to believe that Iraq may have been involved in 9/11? Many reasons. But one of the most important is that their leaders keep lying to them.