Conor Friedersdorf, writing in The Atlantic, describes, in great detail and with ample citations exactly why Dick Cheney is loathed by so many. Lies about WMD, lies about an Iraq/Al-Qaeda connection, impassioned support for torture, and on and on.
Well worth a full read to remind yourself just how bad he was.
Despite these questions and uncertainties, and having full awareness of them, the vice president nevertheless proceeded to misrepresent the facts in his public statements [leading up to the Iraq War], claiming that there was no doubt about the existence of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq and that a full-scale nuclear program was known to exist, including: (a) March 17, 2002: “We know they have biological and chemical weapons.” (b) March 19, 2002: “We know they are pursuing nuclear weapons.” (c) March 24, 2002: “He is actively pursuing nuclear weapons.” (d) May 19, 2002: “We know he’s got chemical and biological…we know he’s working on nuclear.” (e) August 26, 2002: “We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons… Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” (f) March 16, 2003: “We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”
Five hundred and sixty five pages and a simple apology would have been in order in some of them. Which is to say, the great fact of those eight years is we went to war—big war, costly war—under false pretenses. And…to write a memoir in which you say essentially nothing seriously went wrong…if I wrote a memoir of my last week, I would have things to apologize for.
— George Will, stunned by Dick Cheney’s failure to apologize for the Iraq and inflated claims about WMD.
Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown, has received a number of terrible reviews.
But one such review that must really hurt is Peggy Noonan’s review in today’s Wall Street Journal. The entire review is worth a read.
You’d expect such a book (all right—you’d hope) to be reflective, to be self-questioning and questioning of others, and to grapple with the ruin of U.S. foreign policy circa 2001-08. He was secretary of defense until 2006, in the innermost councils. He heard all the conversations. He was in on the decisions. You’d expect him to explain the overall, overarching strategic thinking that guided them. Since some of those decisions are in the process of turning out badly, and since he obviously loves his country, you’d expect him to critique and correct certain mindsets and assumptions so that later generations will learn. When he doesn’t do this, when he merely asserts, defends and quotes his memos, you feel overwhelmed, again, by the terrible thought that there was no overall, overarching strategic thinking. There were only second-rate minds busily, consequentially at work.
Second-rateness marks the book, which is an extended effort at blame deflection. Mr. Rumsfeld didn’t ignore the generals, he listened to them too much. Not enough troops in Iraq? That would be Gen. Tommy Franks. Turkey’s refusal to allow U.S. troop movements? Secretary of State Colin Powell. America’s failure to find weapons of mass destruction? “Obviously the focus on WMD to the exclusion of almost all else was a public relations error.” Yes, I’d say so. He warned early on in a memo he quotes that the administration was putting too much emphasis on WMD. But put it in context: “Recent history is abundant with examples of flawed intelligence that have affected key national security decisions and contingency planning.”
The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.
“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” he said. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”
The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.
When will Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell admit the same?