Dick Cheney’s endless Orwellian gall

    What would it take at this point to muzzle Dick Cheney? Even the Walking Dead zombies quit when they’re blasted.

    But clearly this guy is blastproof. I get that he has a constitutional right to speak freely, but somehow there needs to be a statute of limitations on insulting people’s intelligence.

    A squad of Bush armchair warriors marched into the public eye this week, to opine on the unfolding Iraq disaster and hide the blood on their hands, but Cheney has predictably been the most contemptible. The way he posits lies as truth, the way he flushes his own bloody history down the memory hole…suffice it to say, George Orwell must be spinning in his grave. Dick Cheney, master of war disaster, presuming to offer advice on Iraq is like Lindsay Lohan opening a drivers ed school.

    In a Wall Street Journal guest column the other day, Cheney said this about Barack Obama: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” Does Cheney own a mirror? Just imagine how deep in denial the ex-veep must be, to actually write that sentence.

    Given his copious track record of being wrong about so much at the expense of so many, it’s arguably amazing that anyone still affords him a public forum. But fact-free assertion is his brand, and there will always be a market niche for that in today’s fragmented media.

    It’s probably a waste of time to list Cheney’s litany of wrongs – “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” and “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction” and many more – because that’s no way to grasp his gift for mendacity. So let’s pluck one particular tidbit from the Cheney oeuvre and examine it fully. Because this one says it all:

    Cheney repeatedly insisted, during the long march to war, that Saddam was in close cahoots with Osama bin Laden (thus justifying the Iraq invasion). His assertion was absurd – Hussein was a secular tyrant with no love for Muslim extremists, and President Bush’s Daily Brief of Sept. 21, 2001 stated that there was “scant credible evidence” of any “significant collaborative ties” beween Saddam and Osama – but no matter. Cheney flogged his meme anyway.

    He did so by announcing, on Meet The Press in December 2001, that 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta had met in Prague with a Saddam secret agent: “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”

    Cheney had seized on a rumor that U.S intelligence officials were unable to confirm. Turned out, there was no such meeting. By April 2002, the rumor was dead. Newsweek reported: “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials now believe that Atta wasn’t even in Prague at the time.” But Cheney kept flogging it anyway. In September 2002, he said it again on Meet the Press: “We have reporting that places (Atta) in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack.”

    Fast forward to June 2004. That’s when the bipartisan 9/11 Commission put the kibosh on Cheney’s yarn: “We have examined the allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer….Based on the evidence available – including investigation by Czech and U.S. officials, plus detainee reporting, we do not believe that such a meeting occurred.”

    Cheney got blasted, yet he still kept coming. This was his most priceless moment:

    Shortly after the 9/11 Commission released its report, Cheney was asked about the Atta story during an appearance on CBS News. The questioner confronted Cheney with his own words: “Let’s get to Mohamed Atta for a minute…You have said in the past that (the Atta-Iraq link) was quote, ‘pretty well confirmed.'”

    Here’s what Cheney said in response (I kid you not): “No, I never said that. I never said that….Absolutely not.”

    He had been caught on camera declaring in December ’01 that a Saddam-Osama link was “pretty well confirmed,” yet there he was, several years later, asserting that he had never said what the camera had already recorded for posterity. First he lies about a link; then, when later confronted, he lies about his lie.

    For his serial crimes against our intelligence, he deserves to be henceforth ignored. But since that won’t happen, we can only hope that on occasion he’ll be put in his place…which actually happened on Wednesday night, when Cheney popped up on Fox News. (If Fox News can muster the energy to blast away, there is indeed a ray of hope.) Kudos to Megyn Kelly, for her deliciously worded query:

    “Time and time again, history has proved that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir. You said there was ‘no doubt’ that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, you said we’d be ‘greeted as liberators,’ you said the Iraq insurgency was in its ‘last throes’ back in 2005, and you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to ‘rethink their strategy of jihad.’ Now, with almost a trillion dollars spent there, with 4500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say, ‘You were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many’?”

    Cheney’s initial reply: “No, I just fundamentally disagree, Reagan. Megyn.”


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1


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