Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
Meet the Press Whore

One reason that Dick Cheney was able to lie so freely on Meet the Press is that Tim Russert, the famous tough questioner, made no attempt to discourage his lies. He rarely asked follow-up questions, even though he had a one-on-one interview for most of an hour, and he never challenged any of the several statements that he knew were false. In the face of deliberate lies, Russert repeatedly just changed the subject.

MR. RUSSERT: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think it’s not surprising that people make that connection.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?
...We know, for example, in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of ’93. And we’ve learned subsequent to that, since we went into Baghdad and got into the intelligence files, that this individual probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven.
Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93? We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did, in fact, receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact. With respect to 9/11, of course, we’ve had the story that’s been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we’ve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.
MR. RUSSERT: We could establish a direct link between the hijackers of September 11 and Saudi Arabia....

MR. RUSSERT: Vanity Fair magazine reports that about 140 Saudis were allowed to leave the United States the day after the 11th, allowed to leave our airspace and were never investigated by the FBI and that departure was approved by high-level administration figures. Do you know anything about that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t, but a lot of folks from that part of the world left in the aftermath of 9/11 because they were worried about public reaction here in the United States or that somehow they might be discriminated against. So we have had, especially since the attacks of Riyadh in May of this year from the Saudi government, great support and cooperation in going after terrorists, especially al-Qaeda....
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the situation in Iraq. ...

MR. RUSSERT: We, in fact, have about 140,000 troops, 20,000 international troops, as well. Did you misjudge the number of troops necessary to secure Iraq after major combat operations?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: ...So I don’t think there was a serious misjudgment here. We couldn’t know precisely what would happen. There were a lot of contingencies we got ready for that never did happen....
MR. RUSSERT: The Congressional Budget Office said that: “That the Army lacks sufficient active-duty forces to maintain its current level of nearly 150,000 troops in Iraq beyond next spring."....

MR. RUSSERT: In terms of costs, Mr. Vice President, there are suggestions again—it was a misjudgment by the administration or even misleading. “Lawrence Lindsey, head of the White House’s National Economic Council, projected the ‘upper bound’ of war costs at $100 billion to $200 billion.”...
...It looked like the administrations truly misjudged the cost of this operation.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I didn’t see a one-point estimate there that you could say that this is the administration’s estimate. We didn’t know. And if you ask Secretary Rumsfeld, for example—I can remember from his briefings, he said repeatedly he didn’t know. And when you and I talked about it, I couldn’t put a dollar figure on it.
MR. RUSSERT: But Daniels did say $50 billion.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, that might have been, but I don’t know what is basis was for making that judgment. We do know that we are prepared and need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to make it work...
MR. RUSSERT: Is the $87 billion the end of it? Will the American people be asked for any more money?

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to weapons of mass destruction. I asked you back in March what you thought was the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq. There’s the question, and here is your answer:
“...the combination of [Saddam’s] development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
VICE PRES. CHENEY: And the tie to terror.
MR. RUSSERT: Where are they?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think that the jury is still out in terms of trying to get everything pulled together with respect to what we know....
And since we got in there, we found—we had a gentleman come forward, for example, with full designs for a process centrifuge system to enrich uranium and the key parts that you’d need to build such a system. And we know Saddam had worked on that kind of system before. That’s physical evidence that we’ve got in hand today.
So to suggest that there is no evidence there that he had aspirations to acquire nuclear weapon, I don’t think is valid, and I think David Kay will find more evidence as he goes forward, interviews people, as we get to folks willing to come forward now as they become more and more convinced that it’s safe to do so, that, in fact, he had a robust plan, had previously worked on it and would work on it again.
Same on biological weapons...We had intelligence reporting before the war that there were at least seven of these mobile labs that he had gone out and acquired. We’ve, since the war, found two of them. They’re in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing the capacity for an attack....
MR. RUSSERT: There’s real debate about those labs. But I want to talk about something very specific. And that was the president’s State of the Union message when he said that the British had learned that Saddam was acquiring uranium from Africa.l...

MR. RUSSERT: ...What happened to Dick Cheney, deficit hawk.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I was just looking at the picture you got there, Tim. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. I am a deficit hawk. So is the president. The fact of the matter is, we’ve always made exceptions for recession, national emergency, time of war....One of the reasons the deficit got as big as it did, frankly, was because of the economic slowdown, the fall-off in deficits, the terrorist attacks. A significant chunk was taken out of the economy by what happened after the attacks of 9/11.
MR. RUSSERT: And tax cuts.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Tax cuts accounted for only about 25 percent of the deficit.
MR. RUSSERT: But we see deficits for the next 10 years, big ones. How do you deal with that, when you have Social Security, Medicare, coming up?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We anticipate even with the added spending that we’ve asked for now we’ll cut the deficit roughly in half from where it’ll be next year over the next five years.



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