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HistoryProf 10-12-04 01:21 PM

Cheney's Lamest Excuse Yet
 
Published on Monday, October 11, 2004 by The Nation
Cheney's Lamest Excuse Yet
by John Nichols


What do you do when the excuses you used to "justify" an unwise and unnecessary war are completely discredited.

If you're Vice President Dick Cheney, you make up a new one.

Cheney's favorite excuse, the claim that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had significant ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, was never credible. But the vice president's attempts to peddle the theory became absurd after it was rejected by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States. Cheney kept trying to spin the fantasy for weeks after 9 11 Commission reported that there was no working relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda. But he finally had to acknowledge during last Tuesday night's debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards that he has no evidence to sustain the claim.

Cheney's second favorite excuse, the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that might threaten its neighbors and the United States, was never any more credible than the al Qaeda fantasy. But Cheney knew as he debated Edwards Tuesday night that it would be completely obliterated by a report scheduled for release the following day. That report, compiled by Charles A. Duelfer, chief arms inspector for the Central Intelligence Agency, confirmed what honest observers had known for years: that Iraq had under pressure from the United Nations eliminated its capacity to develop illicit weapons by the mid 1990s.

In a bind, Cheney grabbed during the debate for one of his most ridiculous "justifications": the claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was harboring Abu Nidal, a Palestinian charged with masterminding acts of terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s. The problem with this claim is that Nidal died in August, 2002, two months before the Bush administration sought and received permission from the U.S. Congress to use force against Iraq.

Stuck for an excuse, Cheney hit the campaign trail the day after the debate with a new claim: The war has been necessary because Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders were abusing the United Nations "Oil-for-Food" program. Dismissing the Duelfer report's confirmation that Iraq had no stockpiles of WMDs, Cheney seized on the reports mention of "Oil-for-Food" program abuses to declare, "The suggestion is clearly there by Mr. Duelfer that Saddam had used the program in such a way that he had bought off foreign governments and was building support among them to take the sanctions down." Then the vice president made the leap for a new justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq: "As soon as the sanctions were lifted, he had every intention of going back" to his weapons program, the mind-reading vice president declared. Thus, said Cheney, "delay, defer, wait, wasn't an option."

There is little doubt that Hussein diverted money from the program, which was set up in 1996 to ease the burden on Iraqis who were suffering from hunger and lack of medical care as a result of the U.N. sanctions against the country. But as an excuse for invading and occupying a country, it is Cheney's lamest excuse yet.

After all, "Oil-for-Food" program abuses did not merely benefit Saddam Hussein and his cronies. They also, according to the report produced by CIA chief arms inspector Duelfer, benefitted a number of U.S. corporations that rushed into Iraq to siphon off money funds for themselves.

Duelfer found that Chevron, Mobil, Texaco and Bay Oil had received lucrative vouchers that allowed them to buy Iraqi oil and sell it abroad for big profits.

Additionally, Cheney's old company, Halliburton, the top oil services corporation in the U.S., filled its coffers with Iraqi money during the heyday of the Oil for Food program. When Cheney's was Halliburton's CEO, the company did not collect vouchers; rather, its subsidiaries took advantage of the opening created by the "Oil-for-Food" program to cut deals with Saddam Hussein's government that allowed it to take money directly from Iraq. During 1998 and 1999, Halliburton's Dresser Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump subsidiaries signed contracts to provide roughtly $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq.

The services provided by Halliburton's subsidiaries during the period when Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer of the Dallas-based company helped rebuild Iraq's oil production and distribution infrastructure. That work, which got Iraqi oil flowing, was, of course, necessary for the implementation of the "Oil-for-Food" program -- and, presumably for the abuses about which Cheney is now so concerned.

Under Cheney's leadership, the contracts obtained by Halliburton subsidiaries were among the most substantial awarded any U.S. firm doing business with Saddam Hussein. But they were not as ambitious as the company would have liked. A scheme to have Halliburton subsidiaries repair an Iraqi oil terminal that had been destroyed during the 1991 Gulf War was blocked by the U.S. government because it was determined to violate the sanctions regime.

Might Cheney have been unaware of the Halliburton Iraq tie -- as he tried to claim in one 2000 interview? Not likely. James Perrella, former chairman of Ingersoll Rand told the Washington Post that based on his knowledge of how Halliburton and its subsidiaries worked, Cheney had to have known. "Oh, definitely," Perrella said of Cheney, "he was aware of the business."

Only on the eve of the 2000 presidential election campaign, in which Cheney would secure a position on the Republican ticket by manipulating the vice presidential selection process in his favor, did Halliburton cut the business ties with Iraq that had been made so lucrative by the "Oil-for-Food" program.

But, now, as he searches for a new excuse to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Cheney is suddenly concerned about abuses of the "Oil-for-Food" program.

What excuse is next? Perhaps Cheney will suggest that the occupation must be maintained in order to prevent war profiteering by companies such as, er, well, Halliburton.

nemein 10-12-04 01:26 PM

As an indicator of the overall corruption of the sanctions process I think the OfF is something that is worth talking about. As a specific talking point for the justification of the war I think it's a silly idea. They should just stick w/ the original list since not much has really changed about the validation of that list at the time it was created. Sure we haven't found WMD but all indications were they were there.

Luc TC 10-12-04 01:28 PM

That bugs me but what bugs me more is that the VP of US can't remember meeting John Edwards even though he sat next to him for 1.5hr at a dinner.

Birrman54 10-12-04 01:42 PM


Originally posted by Luc TC
That bugs me but what bugs me more is that a Senator of NC can't remember meeting the Vice President even though he sat next to him for 1.5hr at a dinner.
birrman54

Luc TC 10-12-04 01:46 PM


Originally posted by Birrman54
birrman54
I'm Luc, nice to meet you :D.

nevermind 10-12-04 01:49 PM


Originally posted by Birrman54
birrman54
rotfl

Chew 10-12-04 01:50 PM

:lol: We're apparently missing a "Fixed" somewhere in this thread.

Geofferson 10-12-04 01:52 PM


Originally posted by Luc TC
That bugs me but what bugs me more is that the VP of US can't remember meeting John Edwards even though he sat next to him for 1.5hr at a dinner.
I attended a group luncheon with a partner in my firm.

However, I did not meet him.

nevermind 10-12-04 01:52 PM


Originally posted by Chew
:lol: We're apparently missing a "Fixed" somewhere in this thread.
it was funnier his way :lol:

Luc TC 10-12-04 02:06 PM


Originally posted by Geofferson
I attended a group luncheon with a partner in my firm.

However, I did not meet him.


Are you trying to tell us that you can be just as good of a vice president :D.

Birrman54 10-12-04 02:10 PM


Originally posted by nevermind
it was funnier his way :lol:
:mad: i thought so

;)

birrman54

nevermind 10-12-04 02:11 PM


Originally posted by Birrman54
:mad: i thought so

;)

birrman54

I meant it was funnier your way :thumbsup:

Birrman54 10-12-04 02:13 PM


Originally posted by nevermind
I meant it was funnier your way :thumbsup:
no I got it, I thought some people missed it.

birrman54

Luc TC 10-12-04 02:27 PM


Originally posted by Birrman54
no I got it, I thought some people missed it.

birrman54

More funnies :lol:

Jim 10-12-04 04:13 PM


Originally posted by nemein
Sure we haven't found WMD but all indications were they were there.
What indications are you referring to? Arms/Weapons inspectors Charles Duelfer, David Kay, and Hans Blix would all disagree with you.

Birrman54 10-12-04 04:20 PM


Originally posted by Jim
What indications are you referring to? Arms/Weapons inspectors Charles Duelfer, David Kay, and Hans Blix would all disagree with you.
thousands of dead Kurds would disagree with them

birrman54

nemein 10-12-04 04:58 PM


What indications are you referring to? Arms/Weapons inspectors Charles Duelfer, David Kay, and Hans Blix would all disagree with you.
It was reported the intel agencies of the world had indications he still had programs/WMD or was biding time waiting to reinstitute them. Duelfer was the recent report right so that doesn't fit into the context that I'm talking about. Not sure/don't recall what Kay's final assessment (aside from the fact they hadn't <i>found</i> anything yet) but I do recall Blix constantly proclaiming Iraq wasn't being fully cooperative w/ the inspection process. IMHO that would be indicative of something to hide, or as Kerry so eloquently put it

http://cns.miis.edu/cr/021014sc.htm

Whether the President will have to use that authority depends ultimately on Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein has a choice: He can continue to defy the international community, or he can fulfill his longstanding obligations to disarm. He is the person who has brought the world to this brink of confrontation.

Jim 10-12-04 05:49 PM

I didn't note originally that you had used the past tense 'were'; however, there were indications from weapons inspectors that had actually been on the ground in Iraq, notably Blix and Ritter, that there were no WMD. Instead of the administration trying to find out why there was a discrepancy, the inspectors views were too easily dismissed and they were called traitors, etc. Now, after the fact, both Duelfer and Kay have essentially confirmed what Blix and Ritter were saying before the invasion.

nemein 10-12-04 05:58 PM


there were indications from weapons inspectors that had actually been on the ground in Iraq, notably Blix and Ritter, that there were no WMD
There were also the indications from intel agencies around the world that SH was up to something. This was balanced against INCOMPLETE reports/inspections[1] from the people on the ground in Iraq. Sure it would have been nice to have perfect intel on the situation but in most instances that's not going to be the case. So given the trade offs of what the situation looked like before we took action, I think Bush made the right decision.


[1] Not necessarily from lack of trying (aka SH was leading the inspectors through his hoops/plans not the other way around). Although, as I just pointed out in another thread, there was the incident when the inspectors first got back into Iraq where they turned some people who approached them (possibly w/ information) over to Iraqi internal security forces. This didn't really instill a lot of confidence in me that the inspectors were going to seriously try to find WMD.

bfrank 10-12-04 06:10 PM

flip flopper?

WMD
nuclear program
SH is evil
Democracy in the Middle East
UN's fault


Maybe its just a progression
rotfl

Jim 10-12-04 06:33 PM


Originally posted by nemein
So given the trade offs of what the situation looked like before we took action, I think Bush made the right decision.

It seems that a key difference between our views is what level of evidence is required for a pre-emptive war. At the time I did not feel that the standard of proof that we had was sufficient. I believe that has been borne out by the lack of WMD. It seems obvious to me that the bar should be higher for going to war, yet nearly half the country continues to believe it's not as obvious as I think.

eXcentris 10-12-04 06:34 PM

Obviously that's a big goddam lie as we all know that only the corrupt French, Germans, and Russians were in bed with Saddam and greasing their pockets with Oil for Food money. :)

Captain Pike 10-12-04 06:36 PM


Originally posted by Geofferson
I attended a group luncheon with a partner in my firm.

However, I did not meet him.

Which justifies the Vice President of the United States and the President of the Senate not having met and remembered each and every one of the 100 member body he presides over. I buy it.

Luc TC 10-13-04 11:45 AM


Originally posted by Captain Pike
Which justifies the Vice President of the United States and the President of the Senate not having met and remembered each and every one of the 100 member body he presides over. I buy it.
Then he shouldn't state it as a fact. Typical of this administration.


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