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Cheney's annual State of Delusion address

Attytood | January 25, 2007

It's an annual ritual of January: On the day after the president's State of the Union address, top administration officials fan out to pound home the message from the night before. This year, George W. Bush traveled to the state of Delaware.

And Dick Cheney went to his home state, the state of delusion.

If you haven't heard, Cheney emerged to give a lengthy interview today with an uncharacteristically feisty CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and it was a doozy. (Watch the video at Crooks and Liars.)

In fact, it reminded us of our all-time favorite article on the Iraq war, Harper's " Revision Thing: A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies ." The article was one sentence after another of statements uttered by Bush administration officials, all of them false. Now, the transcipt of Cheney's interview reads exactly like that article.

Look, maybe this kind of thing is too easy, but here are some highlights:

1. CHENEY : Well, he's -- obviously, he's well hidden. We've been looking for him for some time. I think the fact is, he's gone totally to ground. He doesn't communicate, except perhaps by courier, he's not up on the air, he's not putting out videos, the way he did oftentimes in the past.

FACT : As early as March 2002, just six months after 9/11, Bush told a news conference that "[ y]ou know, I just don't spend that much time on him [bin Laden]," a statement backed up by the shift of U.S. resources away from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and into Iraq. In fact, bin Laden has released one videotape and since the start of 2003, as many as 11 audiotapes , which is a lot for somebody who "doesn't communicate."

2. BLITZER : The criticism is that you took your eye off the ball by going into Iraq and, in effect reducing the focus of attention on al Qaeda and bin Laden.

CHENEY : It's just not true. I've heard that charge -- it's simply not true, Wolf. The fact of the matter is, we can do more than one thing at a time and we have. We've been very successful with going after al Qaeda. They're still out there, they're still a formidable force. But they're not nearly as formidable as they once were, in terms of numbers and so forth.

FACT: Regardless of what the organizational chart of al-Qaeda looks like these days, our own State Department reported last April that the number of terror attacks worldwide increased four-fold in 2005. In September, the New York Times reported : "A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

3. CHENEY: We have successfully defended the country for over five years against any further attack. They've tried, we know, repeatedly -- the president talked about it last night in his speech. We know they tried last summer to capture airliners coming out of the UK and to blow them up over the United States or over the Atlantic. There have been numerous attacks have been disrupted.

FACT : There is much skepticism over how serious a threat was posed by the airline plot, since the alleged terrorists had neither manufactured bombs nor purchased airline tickets. Other claims of foiled plots by the Bush administration have been routinely overstated .

4. CHENEY : Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would, at this point, be engaged in a nuclear arms race with Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran.

FACT: As the BBC reported in 2004: "The head of Iraq's nuclear programme under Saddam Hussein has said Iraq destroyed its nuclear weapons programme in 1991 and never restarted it." Nothing has since been discovered to contradict that.

5. CHENEY: He was not being contained. He was not being contained, Wolf. Wolf, the entire sanctions regime had been undermined by Saddam Hussein.

FACT: In February 2001, Bush's then- Secretary of State Colin Powell said this : " We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

6. CHENEY: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf, but what we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do. The world is much safer today because of it.

FACT: See facts from No. 2 regarding worldwide increase in terrorism.

7 . CHENEY : There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically-elected government. Saddam has been brought to justice and executed, his sons are dead, his government is gone. And the world is better off for it.

FACT : As was reported just today : "The Iraqi Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000." That's some democracy.

8. CHENEY : If he [Saddam] were still there today, we'd have a terrible situation.

BLITZER: But there is --

CHENEY: No, there is not. There is not. There's problems -- ongoing problems...

FACT : Where to start with this one? The daily violence , the rising death toll , or the extent of the disaster since the invasion was launched in 2003? By any standard, Iraq is a "terrible situation," not an "ongoing problem."

9 . CHENEY : Wolf, you can come up with all kinds of what-ifs; you've got to be deal with the reality on the ground. The reality on the ground is, we've made major progress. We've still got a lot of work to do. There's a lot of provinces in Iraq that are relatively quiet.

FACT : Violence consumes unacceptibly large swaths of Iraq, from the northern city of Mosul, where violence claimed 70 lives in a recent week , to southern Iraq, where this 2006 article found " British 'helpless' as violence rises in southern Iraq ."

10: CHENEY : Now, the critics have not suggested a policy. They haven't put anything in place. All they want to do, all they've recommended is to redeploy or to withdraw our forces. The fact is we can complete the task in Iraq. And we're going to do it. We've got Petraeus, General Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy. It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task.

FACT: Democrats and other critics have made a number of proposals in Iraq, involving everything from troop redeployments to partitioning Iraq: Several are summarized here . Then there was the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, whose comprehensive plans for Iraq were mostly rejected by Bush.

11. CHENEY: I think, in terms of mistakes, I think we underestimated the extent to which 30 years of Saddam's rule had really hammered the population, especially the Shia population, into submissiveness. It's very hard for them to stand up and take responsibility, in part because anybody who's done that in the past have had their heads chopped off.

FACT: Most experts thinks that the Bush administration also erred in sending too few troops to initially occupy the country before the insurgency took hold, in disbanding the Iraqi army and in failing to have a sensible occupation policy -- big mistakes that Cheney did not acknowledge.

12. BLITZER : Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?

CHENEY : No, I don't.

BLITZER : Why?

CHENEY : Because she's a Democrat. I don't agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint.

FACT: Democrats have made good presidents -- ever hear of John F. Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt, to name a couple. We won't get into Hillary's husband, but most Americans would trade the political environment of the 1990s for the 2000s in a New York minute.

There's a lot more here, but frankly keeping up with the lies of Dick Cheney is a full-time job. We're just glad that this man spends most of his time out of sight, and that 1/20/2009 is at least a glimmer on the calendar.

Anybody else spot lies that we missed?

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