The Hypocrisy of Mr. Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney said this week that it was “dishonest and reprehensible” to suggest “that the president of the United States or any member of his administration purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence.” To suggest that “Americans were sent into battle for a deliberate falsehood” is “revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety”.

But, then, to take just one example, it would have had to have been not dishonest and reprehensible, not shameless revisionism for Cheney to say, on August 26, 2002, in making the case for war, that “we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors — including Saddam’s own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam’s direction.”

By saying “we now know…”, Cheney implied that this was recent testimony, new information. In fact, he was referring to Hussein Kamel, who was indeed murdered by Saddam Hussein — in 1996.

Cheney stated plainly that Kamel’s testimony shows that, in the year 2002, “Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.”

But Kamel’s testimony was given in the year 1995, and was followed by three more years of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which had, according to Mohammed El Baradei, Director General of the IAEA, “destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all Iraqi facilities and equipment component of Iraq’s nuclear programme” by 1992. The IAEA, in 1998, was “confident that we had not missed any significant component of Iraq’s nuclear programme”.

And there’s another thing. Just a minor detail. Kamel didn’t testify either in 2002 or in 1995 that Saddam had “resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons”. He testified about Iraq’s past efforts to enrich uranium, prior to the dismantling of the program by the IAEA — in his words, from “before the Gulf War”.

Another interesting fact about Kamel’s testimony, perhaps worthy of a footnote, is that he testified that Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons had been destroyed, that “nothing remained.” (And, just a a footnote to a footnote, Kamel also noted that “Some of the chemical components came from the US to Iraq.”) He told U.N. inspectors, “You have important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq.” According to Kamel, “All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.”

So compare, once more, Hussein Kamel’s actual testimony to Cheney’s statement: “But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors — including Saddam’s own son-in-law…”

And that’s just one example.

And so for Cheney to say that it is “dishonest and reprehensible”, and “revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety” for people to point out his dishonesty and shameless revisionism is the height of hypocrisy. A person just couldn’t get much more dishonest, shameless, or hypocritical than that, though I don’t think Mr. Cheney should be applauded for his achievement.

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