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Brazen hypocrisy

Dear Editor:

Dick Cheney is the most brazen hypocrite of recent times.

In a Wall Street Journal article on June 17, he stated, referring to President Obama and Iraq, “Rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” This from the deceitful man who got virtually everything wrong before, during, and after the war in Iraq, a man whose errors killed and maimed thousands of America’s finest, along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this ludicrous statement.

Let’s examine Cheney’s record of blunders on Iraq. First, we were told that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, probably the biggest lie, excuse me, error in the movement to a war that Cheney was determined to fight. The Bush administration exerted significant pressure on the intelligence community to provide justification for war. According to John Brennan, who was Deputy Director of the CIA at the time, “we were being asked to do things and to make sure that justification was out there.” The coterie of delusional neocons surrounding Cheney conducted a systematic process of cherry-picking dubious intelligence and outright manipulation of evidence to support a political decision that had already been made. Inspectors who said WMDs didn’t exist were ignored, false stories about aluminum tubes and yellowcake from Africa were peddled assertively, Iraqi defectors that were known liars were used as anonymous sources alleging Saddam’s WMD development, etc.

The next error is Hussein’s supposed operational connections to Al-Queda. An investigation by Congress in 2004 identified at least 61 separate statements that “misrepresented Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda.” For example, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Cheney went on “Meet the Press” and mentioned a “report that’s been pretty well confirmed, that (9/11 hijacker Mohammed) Atta went to Prague and met with a senior official of Iraqi intelligence several months before the attack.” In fact, the CIA had told Cheney this report was false a day before his appearance.

Finally, there was the failed execution of the war itself. General Shinseki, then-Army Chief of Staff, estimated in his February 2003 testimony to the Senate that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed in the long term to secure Iraq, “a piece of geography that’s fairly significant” with a history of “ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems.” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld blasted Shinseki’s warnings. Rumsfeld smugly said “the idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces, I think, is far from the mark.” Bush and Cheney, who had virtually no military experience, thought that “shock and awe” would win the war in weeks if not days. Wrong. They also claimed that the war would cost no more than $100 million. A trillion dollars later, it is obvious that they were astonishingly wrong on this as well.

President Bush has acknowledged that the war was his biggest mistake. It is a shame that Cheney can’t likewise admit his errors and just shut up.

John W. Porco

This story was posted on August 28, 2014.