On the third anniversary of the Iraq war, Vice President Cheney on Sunday sat down with Bob Schieffer on CBS' ``Face the Nation.''
The Senate Democratic communication operation, run by the office of Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) , shot off a quick rebuttal, as did the Democratic National Committee.
Cheney interview followed by Democratic replies..
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FACE THE NATION
Sunday, March 19, 2006
GUEST: Vice President DICK CHENEY
MODERATOR: BOB SCHIEFFER - CBS News
This is a rush transcript provided
for the information and convenience of
the press. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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FACE THE NATION - CBS NEWS
BOB SCHIEFFER, host:
Today on FACE THE NATION, an exclusive interview with Vice President Dick
Cheney. Today on this third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we'll sit
down with the vice president and talk about the possibility of civil war
there, the state of the White House and the Republican Party, his future, and
his relationship with President Bush. Then I'll have a final word on all that
talk about lobbying reform which has apparently turned out to be just that:
talk. But first, Vice President Cheney on FACE THE NATION.
Announcer: FACE THE NATION with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob
Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.
SCHIEFFER: Good morning again.
And the vice president is in the studio with us this morning for this live
Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for coming.
Vice President DICK CHENEY: Good morning, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Let's start right in about Iraq because that's right at the top of
the list this morning. The conservative columnist George Will in this
morning's paper, reflecting what I think is a growing unease among some
Republicans now, says the conditions in Iraq today are worse than they were
after the elections in December. And today Ayad Allawi--the former interim
prime minister, the most pro-American of the Iraqi leaders, I think--says that
we can no longer mince words. Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. Do you
agree with that?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I don't, Bob. I think the assessment that we get from
General George Casey, who's our man commanding in Iraq; from Zal Khalilzad,
the ambassador; from John Abizaid, who's the general in charge of central
command; doesn't square with that.
Clearly there is an attempt under way by the terrorists, by Zarqawi and others
to foment civil war. That's been their strategy all along. But my view would
be they've reached a stage of desperation from their standpoint. For example,
the bombing of the mosque in Samarra here a couple of weeks ago, that is a
reflection of the fact that they are doing everything they can to stop the
formation of a democratically elected government. Zarqawi himself was quoted
two years ago saying that if the Iraqis ever achieved that objective, put
together a democratic government, that he'd have to pack up his bags and go
elsewhere, and I think that's absolutely the case. What we've seen is a
serious effort by them to foment civil war, but I don't think they've been
SCHIEFFER: You don't think they're there yet?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I don't.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Vice President, all along the government has been very
optimistic. You remain optimistic, but I remember when you were saying we'd
be greeted as liberators. You played down the insurgency. Ten months ago you
said it was in its last throes. Do you believe that these optimistic
statements may be one of the reasons people seem to be more skeptical in this
country about whether we ought to be in Iraq?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: No. I think it's--it has less to do with statements
we've made--which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality--then it
does the fact that there's a constant sort of perception, if you will, that's
created because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad. It's not all
the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces in terms of making
progress towards rebuilding Iraq.
The facts are pretty straightforward. The Iraqis met every single political
deadline that's been set for them. They haven't missed a single one. They
took over in terms of sovereignty 21 months ago. They held national elections
the following January. They wrote a constitution, one of the best
constitutions in that part of the world. They held a referendum on it last
October, and last December had turn out of about 78 percent in terms of the
election. And now we're putting together a government which they'll have
formed up here shortly on the security front.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: We've seen major progress in terms of training and
equipping Iraqi forces. Today, roughly half of all of the missions that are
being conducted over there are with Iraqis in the lead. They've been very
successful now in terms of training and equipping over a hundred battalions of
Iraqi troops, and that continues to improve day by day. Those are the facts
on the ground. That's the reality. Now...
SCHIEFFER: But, may I just interrupt you?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Sure.
SCHIEFFER: Isn't it also a reality that the violence continues? They keep
finding these people that have been executed. And isn't it also reality that
they can't seem to put a government together? They can't seem to find a way,
a compromise, to get this government together?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Bob, it took us a lot longer to put an effective
government together when we tried to do it 200 years ago than it's taken the
Iraqis. It's remarkable when you think about a group of people who have been
under the heavy hand of oppression for 35 years with Saddam Hussein, one of
the bloodiest dictators of modern times, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of
his own people, started two wars, used weapons of mass destruction against his
own folks. To emerge from that as effectively as they have in as short a
period of time as they have...
Yes, there's continuing violence. Why? It's continuing violence because our
adversaries understand what's at stake here. Because they know that if we're
successful in establishing a democratic government in Iraq, that that's going
to put enormous pressure in that part of the world on all of those other
regimes and governments. It offers a counter to the bloody ideology that
Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organizations have tried to perpetrate
throughout that part of the world.
There's a lot at stake here. It's just not about Iraq. It's not about just
today's situation in Iraq. It's about where we're going to be 10 years from
now in the Middle East and whether or not there's going to be hope and the
development of governments that are responsive to the will of the people that
are not a threat to anyone, that are not safe havens for terror or
manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction--that's our vision and our
view--or whether or not the terrorists succeed. And if they succeed, then the
danger is that Iraq will become a failed state, as Afghanistan was a few years
ago when it was governed by the Taliban, a safe haven for Osama bin Laden, and
a base from which they launched attacks against the United States and our
friends around the world.
SCHIEFFER: Let me read to you what Senator Kennedy, liberal Democrat from
Massachusetts and a long-time opponent of the war, said on the third
anniversary. Here's part of his statement. He said, "It is clearer than ever
that Iraq was a war we never should have fought. The administration has been
dangerously incompetent, and its Iraq policy is not worthy of the sacrifice of
our men and women in uniform. Yet, President Bush continues to see the war
through the same rose-colored glasses he has always used. He assumes the
America--assures the American people we are winning while Iraq's future and
the lives of our troops hang so perilously on the precipice of a new
disaster." "Dangerously incompetent" is what he is saying. I want to give you
a chance to respond.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, I would not look to Ted Kennedy for guidance and
leadership on how we ought to manage national security, Bob. I think what
Senator Kennedy reflects is sort of the pre-9/11 mentality about how we ought
to deal with the world and that part of the world. You know, we used to
operate on the assumption before 9/11 that a criminal attack was--a terrorist
attack was criminal act, a law enforcement problem. We were hit repeatedly in
the '90s and never responded effectively. And the terrorists came to believe
not only could they strike us with impunity, but if they hit us hard enough
they could change our policy, because they did in Beirut in 1983 or Mogadishu
We changed all that on 9/11. After they hit us and killed 3,000 of our people
here at home, we said, `Enough's enough. We're going to aggressively go after
them. We'll go after the terrorists wherever we find them. We'll go after
those states that sponsor terror. We'll go after people who can provide them
with weapons of mass destruction. We'll use our intelligence and our military
services very aggressively.' And we have. We did it in Afghanistan. We've
done it in Pakistan. We're working with the Paks, we captured or killed
hundreds of al-Qaeda. We've done it in Saudi Arabia, and obviously we're
doing it now in Iraq. That kind of aggressive, forward-leading strategy is
one of the main reasons we haven't been struck again since 9/11, because we've
taken the fight to them.
Senator Kennedy's approach would be, `Pack your bags and go home. Retreat
behind your oceans and assume you can be safe.' But we learned on 9/11 that,
in fact, what's going on 10,000 miles away in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq
can have a direct impact here in the United States when we lost 3,000 people
that morning. And we know now that the biggest threat that we face of all
isn't just another 9/11, it's a 9/11 where the terrorists have something like
nuclear weapons or a deadly biological agent to use against us. The Iraq
situation has to be viewed within the broader context of the global war on
terror. It is a global conflict, you can't look just at Iraq and make
decisions there with respect to how that's going to come out without having
major consequences for everything that's going on. And I think we are going
to succeed in Iraq, I think the evidence is overwhelming. I think Ted
Kennedy's been wrong from the very beginning, he's the last man I'd go to for
guidance in terms of how we should conduct US national security policy.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you about this charge of incompetence, because we
hear that not just about Iraq, but we hear it more--and being raised sometimes
by members of your own party on a variety of issues--the bumbling after
Katrina, the Harriet Miers nomination, the failure to see the political
implications of the Dubai Ports deal. Some people are even saying you need a
staff shakeup over at the White House, Mr. Vice President.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Bob, you know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of
30 years ago when I was Jerry Ford's chief of staff and you were the CBS
correspondent covering the White House.
SCHIEFFER: That's right.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: We had same kind of stories then, the same kinds of
controversy. Administrations go through peaks and valleys. It's a tough
business that we're involved in. And when you're down in the polls, you're
going to take shots that you don't deserve; and when you're up in the polls,
you're probably going to get praise you don't deserve. So I don't think we
can pay any attention to that kind of thing. The president's got a job to do.
I've worked very closely now with this man for over five years, he's a superb
leader, he's tough, he's decisive, he's willing to take tough decisions. He
ignores the background noise that's out there in the polls that are taken on a
daily basis. He's doing a superb job, he's got great people around him, and I
simply don't give credence to those kind of comments.
SCHIEFFER: So what--but, you know, many people say that they're just worn
out. And we all know, whether you like them or don't like them, respect them
or don't respect, people who work at the White House work very long hours,
they work very, very hard. Is it possible that maybe they're just suffering a
little fatigue here and it would be good to bring in some people?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, and we're always--they're actually, there's been a
fair amount of change and movement if you look at--been a lot of changes in
the Cabinet in the second term, and, and--but we've got some very good,
talented people there. But you know, the president will make decisions when
he wants to move people around and make those kinds of choices, that's really
up to him. But I think the notion that somehow the staff is exhausted, yeah,
these are tough jobs, no question about it. But we've got some very good,
very able, very talented folks who are devoted to the president, devoted to
trying to do what's right for the country. And I think that--I think the
country's been well-served by this president and by those who work for him.
SCHIEFFER: You don't see any shake up coming?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I'm not in the business of making predictions. The
president hasn't indicated he plans to make any changes. If he does and when
he does, I'm sure he'll announce it.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's take a break here, and we'll talk about
some more things when we come back in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with the vice president.
Mr. Vice President, I must say candidly, you have become a lightning rod in
this administration, whether it's, you know, defending the administration when
John McCain says he wants to eliminate torture, on this whole eavesdropping
thing. Some Republican pundits suggest you may have become a liability. I
know Secretary Rumsfeld once offered to resign. Have you ever thought of
that, or would you think that would be something would be helpful to the
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, I made sure both in 2000 and 2004 that the
president had other options. I mean, I didn't--I didn't ask for this job, I
didn't campaign for it, I got drafted. And delighted to serve, and it's been
the highlight of my career to be part of this administration. I've now been
elected to a second term, I'll serve out my term.
SCHIEFFER: I mean the fact that you have become some people say a hate magnet
in some ways, because you have spoken out on some of these issues. Is this
some version of a good cop/bad cop kind of routine where you take the heat to
keep the president from taking it?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: It may look that way. It's--it's not conscious. I
think--what I would say about it, Bob, is that this has been a different kind
of arrangement than most administrations have between the president, the vice
president, primarily because I'm here to serve him, I'm not here to run for
higher office. Most of my predecessors spent a good part of their time as
president--as vice president getting ready to run for president, and thinking
about their own campaigns for president. I made it clear from the outset that
I'm not a candidate for president, I won't run for president, I've taken the
Sherman statement, `If nominated I will not run; if elected I won't serve.' I
mean I've been very, very firm on that.
So my job is to do what I can to support him and to support the
administration. My advice to him is untainted by any concern I might have
about how the folks in Iowa will look at me with connection with the 2008 Iowa
caucuses. And when I speak out on an issue it's because somebody needs to
speak out on the issue, and I can do it without fear, in a sense that I'm not
here trying to burnish my image or improve my standing in the polls. I'm here
to do a job that needs to be done for the president of the United States, and
I'm perfectly willing to go out and speak out on those issues. Such as the...
SCHIEFFER: Would you...
Vice Pres. CHENEY: ...NSA terrorist surveillance program, because I believe
very deeply in what we're doing, it's the right thing to do, and frankly I
don't spend a lot of time worrying about the polls.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me, since you just brought that up, will you support the
move now under way in the Congress to give them more Congressional oversight
on the eavesdropping program?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I've been directly involved on behalf of the president,
negotiating with the members of both the House and the Senate, and the
intelligence committees, in setting up the new arrangements. We negotiated an
arrangement whereby there'll be subcommittees in both the House and the Senate
of the intelligence committees that a larger number of members--for example
seven members now in the Senate instead of just the two that have been briefed
previously of the committee--will be fully briefed into the program. And
we've already had the briefing. Shortly we'll have a similar briefing for the
We are working with them to give them broad oversight with respect to this
program. It's a very important program. It is totally in compliance with the
laws and Constitution of the United States. It's been a major success in
preventing attacks against the United States, and it needs to be preserved and
Now, intelligence areas, one of the areas the president asked me to work on
when I first came on board, and I've had an interest in this subject going
back 30 years to my days in the Ford administration. So it's appropriate one
for me to work on, but it also means going out publicly and defending it. A
lot of people would perhaps run for the hills or avoid controversy, and
obviously I don't feel that way.
SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to one thing you said about serving out your term,
because some--you hear some of these Republican pundits and strategists that
say, `Well, since the vice president does not have any aspirations to be
president, maybe a year or so before his term is up he might step aside for
one reason or another so you could put somebody else into the job, and that
that person would then have a heads-up on getting the nomination.'
Would--would anything like that ever make sense to you?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: No. Nobody's suggested it to me.
SCHIEFFER: All right, that's a good answer, a direct answer.
We have, I must say, Mr. Vice President, known each other as you mention,
back--since back to the days when President Ford was president. You were very
open. You were, you dealt with reporters a lot, but Brent Scowcroft, who's
known you longer than I have, said the other day, `I don't know Dick Cheney
anymore.' I want to ask you, do you think you have changed since those days?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, I'm a lot older. I've got less hair.
SCHIEFFER: So am I.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: And what I've got left is gray. Circumstances have
changed, I think, Bob. The job I have now as vice president is to be an
advisor to the president, primarily. I don't run anything. I'm not in charge
of the White House. I'm not in charge of the Defense Department as I once
was, or a congressman from Wyoming. And the most valuable service I render to
him is to give him advice, and that advice is most valuable when it's totally
private, when he knows what I've recommended. And I don't talk about it. I
don't talk about the conversations I have with him.
I think presidents need to have somebody around them that is totally reliable
and trustworthy and is going to protect those communications they have with
the president. They need to be able to have somebody they can level with, and
I sort of see that as my role in this administration. It means I don't give
very many interviews. It means I am cautious about what I say and what I'm
willing to talk about, and that preserves my value to him. Some people look
at that and say, `Well, Cheney's changed' or `Cheney's shifted' or another
tendency, I think, is to always assume that the president--any president's a
black box and it's the advisors around him that run things, or, you know,
`This faction's up and therefore that's why this happened.' They fail to give
adequate credit to the man himself.
This president has very firm ideas. He makes decisions very decisively. When
you see policy annunciated out there--for example, the belief in spreading
freedom and democracy is key to our national security strategy, that's pure
George Bush. That's not just because I believe it or others in the
administration believe it. That doesn't mean one faction's up or one
faction's down in the great game of advice, as it's commented on by the
talking heads. That's what George Bush believes. And I think a lot of my
friends out there look and see some of the policies we've pursued and
disagree. But, you know, to suggest somehow I've changed or my fundamental
views of the world have evolved over time, basically I don't think that's
SCHIEFFER: I must ask you about what you have called the worst day of your
life, the day that you accidentally shot your friend Harry Whittington down in
Texas on that hunting expedition. You didn't make it public for almost a day.
Now, you told Brit Hume the other day that you still thought that was the
right way to go about it. But I just want to ask you, now that you've had
some time to reflect on it, could that have been better handled?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Well, I think it's one of those situations or
circumstances that is obviously difficult and generates controversy. It's
probably the first time the Secret Service ever had to worry about a protectee
shooting somebody else instead of being shot at. I mean, as the president
said the other night, he's at 38 percent in the polls and as a result of this
incident, I shot the only trial lawyer in Texas who supported him. So people
can laugh about it now, but at the time it was deadly serious.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I can imagine.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: And, and--the--I must admit the first thing I thought
when I saw what had happened and rushed over to help Harry, I did not think,
`Gee, I'd better call the press corps and tell them what's going on here.'
SCHIEFFER: Sure. But later on, shouldn't you have...
Vice Pres. CHENEY: This is about 6:00 at night. By the time we got him to
the hospital, and we did not know until the next morning exactly the status of
his medical condition. And that's when we began to notify the press. And
then controversy over whether we should have called the White House press
corps--I didn't have any press people with me; this was a private trip--or do
it the way we did it, and the way we did it I thought was appropriately, which
is to have Katharine Armstrong, who was a witness to all of these events, call
the local newspaper and they immediately got it, immediately put it on the
wire, and everybody had it. So, it struck me as a bit of a tempest in a
teapot over the question of how it was announced. It was announced by us, I
believe in a timely fashion, as soon as we knew what Harry's status was.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you do believe that elected officials owe the public an
explanation for their actions?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Sure. I mean, this was not part of my public duty and
responsibility or my official duties at all, but there's bound to be interest
in it when something like that happens because I am the vice president, and we
treated it that way.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for coming.
We'll be back with a final word in just a moment.
SCHIEFFER: When the big congressional bribery scandal broke and it looked
like the chief briber, Jack Abramoff, was going to name names, members of
Congress raced to call for reform. House Speaker Dennis Hastert called for
banning all congressional travel, gifts and meals paid for by others. `Amen!'
cried Democrats and Republicans alike. But then the Dubai port deal caught
the public's attention and reform slid off the front burner, and now, right
off the stove.
John Boehner, the Republicans' new majority leader, said, `Whoa! The
speaker's gone too far with this reform stuff. Friday we found out why. The
Center for Public Integrity said if you add up the days that Boehner spent
over the past five years on trips paid for by others, it comes to a full six
months. And he took 45 trips on corporate jets. Be assured that Congressman
Boehner would tell you what they all tell you: These gifts had no effect on
how he voted.
But here's my question, Mr. Boehner: Do you really believe anyone would buy
you a plane ticket, or even a bus ticket if you were not in Congress? Do you
really believe they would keep laying out all that money if they didn't
believe they were getting something in return?
Congress is drowning in a sea of corruption, but has become so used to it
members can't see what they have done wrong. Well, here's what I see from the
shoreline: People are fed up, and if Congress doesn't clean up this mess a
lot of them are going to get beat. But even then you have to wonder if
they'll understand why.
That's our broadcast. We'll see you next week when our guest will be
Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
Senate Democratic Reply
Fact Check: Dick Cheney
Today, on CBS’s Face the Nation, when Bob Schiefer asked Vice President Cheney about past assertions he had made on the subject of Iraq -- that Americans would be greeted as liberators and that the insurgency was in its last throes -- Cheney responded that his comments “were basically accurate and reflect reality.��? The Vice President’s statements did not reflect reality then, and they don’t reflect reality now. All Americans want success in Iraq, but this Administration's policies have demonstrated a dangerous incompetence. It’s time for an end to the misleading assertions.
Cheney Said Iraqis Haven’t Missed Any Political Deadlines. “The Iraqis met every single political deadline that's been set for them. They haven't missed a single one.��? [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/19/06]
Ø FACT: Iraq’s Parliament is Deadlocked. “Iraq's parliament met briefly on Thursday for the first time since it was elected in December but deadlock on forming a government meant no business was done.��? [Reuters, 3/16/06]
Cheney Trumpeted Iraqi Constitution. “They wrote a constitution, one of the best constitutions in that part of the world.��? [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/19/06]
Ø FACT: Constitutional Referendum Left Key Issues Unresolved. Many experts fear that pressure to complete a draft constitution in time for the referendum actually compromised rather than increased Iraq’s political stability. The drafters failed to reach consensus on hot-button issues—such as distribution of oil revenues—choosing to delay addressing these issues until after the new government is in place. Moreover, there is also concern that Iraq’s constitution does not adequately ensure the rights of women and religious minorities. [Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 9/16/05; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 10/6/05]
Cheney Compared Formation of Iraqi Government to American Political Experience. “Bob, it took us a lot longer to put an effective government together when we tried to do it 200 years ago than it's taken the Iraqis.��? [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/19/06]
Ø FACT: General Abizaid Said the War Does Not Have a Military Solution. “But the war does not have a military solution, Abizaid said. Rather, all aspects of national power - economic, diplomatic and the military - must combine to fashion a political solution. ‘We're the shield behind which the politics will take place,’ he said.��? [DefenseLink, 6/26/05]
Ø FACT: Death Squads Operate from within the Iraqi Government. “Senior Iraqi officials Sunday confirmed for the first time that death squads composed of government employees had operated illegally from inside two government ministries. ‘The deaths squads that we have captured are in the defense and interior ministries,'’ Minister of Interior Bayan Jabr said during a joint news conference with the Minister of Defense. ‘There are people who have infiltrated the army and the interior.’ Jabr said Sunday that investigations into death squads still were ongoing in the Defense Ministry. He said the Interior Ministry had arrested 22 people, but released 18 suspects after questioning them.��? [Knight Ridder, 3/13/06]
Cheney Played Up Iraqi Troop Strength. “Today roughly half of all the missions that are being conducted over there are with Iraqis in the lead. They've been very successful now in terms of training and equipping over 100 battalions of Iraqi troops and it continue to improve day by day. Those are the facts on the ground. That's the reality.��? [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/19/06]
Ø FACT: The Number of Iraqi Security Force Battalions Capable of Operating independently has Dropped from Three to Zero. The Defense Department neither explains the reason for this decrease in Level I forces, nor how the Administration plans to reverse the trend. [Department of Defense’s (DoD) “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq��? Report, February, 2006]
Ø FACT: Operation Swarmer a “Photo-Op,��? Not the Largest Use of Airpower Since the Start of the War. “In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders. The operation, which doubled the population of the flat farmland in one single airlift, was initiated by intelligence from Iraq security forces, says Lt Col Skip Johnson commander of the 187 Battallion, 3rd Combat Brigade of the 101st Airborne. ‘They have the lead,’ he said to reporters at the second stop of the tour. But by Friday afternoon, the major targets seemed to have slipped through their fingers.��? [Time (online edition), 3/17/06]
Cheney Said Warrantless Domestic Eavesdropping Has Prevented Terrorist Attacks. “It's been a major success in preventing attacks against the United States.��? [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/19/06]
Ø FACT: General Michael Hayden Declined to Confirm Cheney’s Assessment of Warrantless Wiretapping Program’s Effectiveness.
Senator Levin: “You gave us the estimate -- the vice president estimated that thousands of lives have been saved by this program. General, I just want to know: Can you estimate the number of lives that have been saved by this program?
General Hayden: “I cannot personally estimate the number of lives.��? [Senate Select Intelligence Committee Holds Hearing on World Wide Threats, 2/2/06]
Ø FACT: The Attacks of 9/11 Did Not Happen Because the Government Was Not Able to Wiretap Without a Warrant. 9/11 Commission Chairman, Thomas, Kean, disputes that argument: "The problem was the CIA and FBI not communicating and not picking them up." So does Bob Kerrey: "It's not true," ex-9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey, president of the New School in Manhattan, told the Daily News. "We knew about those two guys - the CIA lost them." [See the 9/11 Report here; New York Daily News, 1/27/06]
Democratic National Committee reply
Cheney Cherry Picks Iraq Facts
Washington, DC – Vice President Cheney today marked the third anniversary of the war in Iraq by using cherry-picked facts to paint a rosy picture that doesn’t match the reality on the ground in Iraq. Echoing his claim three years ago that our troops would “be greeted as liberators��? and his claim ten months ago that the Iraqi insurgency was “in its last throes,��? Vice President Cheney today said insurgents had “reached a stage of desperation.��? [Meet the Press, 3/16/03; Larry King Live, 5/30/05; Face the Nation, 3/19/06]
But the facts on the ground simply do not support Cheney’s rhetoric. As American troops begin their fourth year in Iraq with the largest air assault since the invasion, the country is slipping into civil war and basic services aren’t being provided to the Iraqi people. As Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha noted on Meet the Press, Iraqis have electricity just 10 hours a day, only 30 percent of Iraqis have clean water, and 40 percent of Iraqis are unemployed. [Meet the Press, 3/19/06]
“Just like this Administration cherry-picked intelligence to build their case for war, Vice President Cheney today tried to cherry-pick the facts to paint a rosy picture that simply doesn’t match the reality in Iraq,��? said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney. “The American people can see the truth for themselves every day. We don’t need more of the same permanent commitment to a failed strategy from this Administration. The American people know that we need to change course in Iraq, so 2006 can be a year of transition in which the Iraqi’s truly take control of their country.��?
The following is a fact sheet from DNC Research on Vice President Cheney’s irrational exuberance on Iraq:
Cheney’s Irrational Exuberance
This weekend marks the third anniversary of start of the war in Iraq. Today, Vice President Cheney appeared on Face The Nation to discuss the war in Iraq, and refused to give straight answers to basic questions about the Iraq war. Instead, he continued the Bush Administration’s commitment to a failed strategy in Iraq.
CHENEY: I don't [agree that Iraq is in a civil war], Bob. I think the assessment that we get from General George Casey who is our man commanding in Iraq, from the Ambassador…from John Abizaid who is the General in charge of Central Command doesn't square with that. [Face The Nation, 3/19/06]
Former Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Said Iraq Was In Civil War. Iyad Allawi former Interim Iraqi Prime Minister and leader of the Iraqi National List, a secular nationalist party made up of Sunnis and Shiites, said that Iraq was already in a civil war. Allawi said, “It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.��? [BBC, 3/19/06]
Experts Say Iraq Has Been In A Civil War Since 2004. “‘By the standard that political scientists use, there's been a civil war going on in Iraq since sovereignty was handed over to the interim government in 2004,’ said Stanford University's James Fearon…American military analyst Stephen Biddle says U.S. policy-makers make a mistake if they ‘miss the nature of the conflict, which in Iraq is already a civil war between rival ethnic and sectarian groups.’��? [AP, 3/15/06; Los Angeles Times, 2/25/06; Washington Times, 3/15/06]
CHENEY: Clearly there is an attempt underway by the terrorists, by Zarqawi and others to foment civil war. That's been their strategy all along, but my view would be they’ve reached a stage of desperation from their standpoint. [Face The Nation, 3/19/06]
CIA: Iraq Is Insurgency’s Most Effective Training Camp. A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat. [New York Times, 6/22/05]
CHENEY: The Iraqis met every single political deadline that's been set for them. They haven't missed a single one. [Face The Nation, 3/19/06]
Iraqis Missed Four Deadlines On Creation Of Iraqi Constitution. The Iraqi constitution was finally signed by Shite and Kurdish negotiators on August 28, 2005, after missing four deadlines that had been set for delivery of the document. Sunni negotiators refused to sign the document and pledged to fight against it. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni negotiator said, “I think if this constitution passes as it is, it will worsen everything in the country.��? [AP, 8/28/05]
CHENEY: On the security front we've seen major progress in terms of training and equipping Iraqi forces…That's the reality. [Face The Nation, 3/19/06]
Iraqi Police Are Infiltrated By Criminals, Religious and Ethnic Militia. “Religious and ethnic militias and criminal organizations have infiltrated police in some areas, further undermining the fledgling force's effectiveness and credibility. Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority has accused some units of the Shiite Muslim-dominated force of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Sunnis.��? Sectarian militias replaced Iraqi government forces in some areas after one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines was bombed. In other areas, Shiite militiamen or members of Sunni insurgent groups have infiltrated police and military units. [The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/6/06; Knight Ridder, 2/24/06]
Iraqi Police Hobbled By Corruption. General George Casey said the command has declared 2006 as the "year of the police," a tacit acknowledgment that the more than 80,000-strong Iraqi force has been hobbled by incompetence, corruption, sectarianism and low morale. [AP, 2/8/06]
CHENEY: [Iraqis have] been very successful now in terms of training and equipping over 100 battalions of Iraqi troops and it continues to improve day by day.[Face The Nation, 3/19/06]
We Can’t Even Get Straight Answers About How Many Trained Iraqi Troops There Are. The Bush Administration’s estimates of how many Iraqi troops have been trained continue to change:
February 2004: Rumsfeld says the number of Iraqis serving in the security forces was over 210,000, and that the number may grow to over 226,000 by April. [State Department, 2/24/04]
September 2004: Rumsfeld says the “latest number, last week was 105,000. Now it looks to be 95,000 – that is to say that are trained and equipped.��? [DOD Briefing, 9/7/04]
February 2005: Rumsfeld says “…the fact of the matter is that there are 130,200 who have been trained and equipped…That's a fact. And how do I know that? I know it because General Petraeus counts them.��? [Fox News, 2/1/05]
June 2005: Rumsfeld says the��? fact of the matter is the number's [of trained troops is] 168,000.��? [ABC News, 6/26/05]
July 2005: General Casey told told Congress that only three of the approximately 100 Iraqi army battalions are taking on the insurgents by themselves. Three battalions is approximately 700 soldiers. [Associated Press, 7/22/05; Knight Ridder, 11/30/05]
November 2005: President Bush says, “40 Iraqi battalions are taking the lead in the fight.��? He said a battalion is typically comprised of “between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces,��? which would bring the latest estimate of fully trained Iraqi troops to somewhere between 14,000 and 32,000. [Bush Speech in Annapolis, 11/30/05]
December 2005: When asked how many Iraqi troops were now able to stand alone without the backing of U.S. troops, President Bush said there were "about 200,000-plus capable" forces. He continued by saying that “ Now, not all of them are ready to take the fight to the enemy.��? [Bush Speech, 12/12/05]
March 2006: President Bush says, “60 Iraqi battalions are taking the lead in the fight.��? He previously said a battalion is typically comprised of “between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces,��? which would bring the latest estimate of fully trained Iraqi troops to somewhere between 21,000 and 48,000. [Bush Speech, 3/13/06]
Instead of American Troops Being Drawn Down, 700 Additional Troops Sent to Iraq. “Concerned about escalating violence as Iraq struggles to form a new government, the U.S. military has sent several hundred troops with tanks and other armor from Kuwait to the Baghdad area. It is the first time extra troops have been sent since December's parliamentary election, which was followed by a period of political wrangling and a wave of sectarian violence triggered by the bombing of a Shiite shrine on Feb. 22. Moving an Army battalion of about 700 soldiers from Kuwait is part of a broader plan, dubbed "Scales of Justice," that includes the repositioning of several thousand U.S. and Iraqi security forces inside Iraq…[G]eneral [Casey] did not say whether more troop increases might be needed this spring.��? [AP, 3/15/06]
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