THE BLOG

Cheney Never Shoots Straight

07/16/2014 11:36 pm ET | Updated Sep 16, 2014
Win McNamee via Getty Images

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is trying hard to salvage his legacy, so he is resorting to spin, distortion and lies. But why is the media paying attention to him? Not even Cheney himself could erase from history the devastating record he has amassed, especially working with President George W. Bush.

A 2012 New York Times report revealed all of the warnings the Bush/Cheney administration received in the spring and summer of 2001 of a terrorist threat against the United States from within. On May 1, 2001, the CIA warned Bush a "group presently in the United States" was planning an attack. In July, the CIA warned that the attacks could be "imminent." On August 6, Bush received a classified document entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." None of the dots were connected by the White House, which dismissed criticism by saying they were not told when or where the attacks would occur. The attacks occurred on September 11, with devastating consequences.

In response, The Bush/Cheney White House targeted Iraq and its ruthless leader, Saddam Hussein. They built their case around alleged links between al Qaeda and Hussein, as well as allegations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD's). While Hussein was a brutal dictator, his government held together Iraq's various religious factions and served as a balance against a restive Iran.

Cheney was among those from the administration who were speaking out publicly about WMD's in Iraq. In August 2002, Cheney told a VFW convention, "Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons." Of course, there were no WMD's in Iraq. The administration had misled the American people.

Just before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Cheney was asked on NBC's Meet the Press how long a U.S. invasion would take. He responded, "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators... I think it will go relatively quickly... weeks rather than months." The U.S. was not greeted as liberators, and the invasion proved to be poorly planned by the Pentagon and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In September 2003, six months after the invasion, Cheney said, "If we're successful in Iraq... we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11." But no link between Hussein and the terrorists was ever found, and Osama bin Laden was based in Afghanistan. The Bush/Cheney administration failed to focus on the war in Afghanistan.

Following the invasion, the administration implemented a policy of de-ba'athification, which rid the Iraqi government of Hussein's Ba'ath party supporters. As a result, an estimated 50,000 civil government employees were removed from their positions and the military's officer ranks were depleted. The Bush/Cheney operatives had failed to fully understand the possible implications of their policy, so the result in Iraq was chaos. Meanwhile, the Bush/Cheney White House backed a government supported by hard-line Shiite religious organizations, which included now Prime Minister Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Sunnis, who are about 20 percent of the population, were squeezed out, as were the Kurds.

Today's civil war involving ISIS is largely a result of Bush/Cheney policies. The Iraq War has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $2 trillion dollars and 4,000 American lives. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. And to what end?

In 2005, The Washington Post editorial page dubbed Cheney the "Vice President for Torture." Cheney initiated and defended the use of torture on terrorism suspects, a violation of human rights and the Geneva Convention. In 2011 he defended the policy in an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute. "The notion that somehow the United States was wildly torturing anybody is not true," he said. "One of the most controversial techniques is waterboarding... Three people were waterboarded. Not dozens, not hundreds. Three. And the one who was subjected the most often to that was Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, and it produced phenomenal results for us." Of course, he lied about the "phenomenal results" too.

Cheney was also behind an NSA operation to monitor the phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens without warrant, which would later become known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. After two years of going along with "the vice president's special program" the Justice Department decided that parts of it were illegal.

The Bush/Cheney team allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Georgia and take control of two of its regions. And the Bush/Cheney team is responsible for not reining in Iran early on. Ari Shavit, an Israeli author and columnist, wrote, "The Bush administration didn't initiate a political-economic siege on Iran when it was weak, and Mr. Bush weakened America by exhausting its economic power and military might in a futile war."

On domestic policy, the Bush/Cheney team led this country into the worst recession since the Great Depression, yet Cheney refuses to take any responsibility for the policies that nearly destroyed the world's economy. They added billions to the U.S. deficit, but Cheney once said, "deficits don't matter."

Now Dick Cheney is defending his legacy and bitterly attacking President Barack Obama. For instance, Cheney took to CNN Wednesday to say that Obama is "the worst president of my lifetime." But President George W. Bush left office in January 2009 as one of the most unpopular presidents in history. According to a CBS News/New York Times poll at the time, 73 percent of Americans surveyed said they disapproved of the way Bush handled his presidency.

Ever since Dick Cheney shot his friend in a 2006 duck hunting accident Americans have known that Cheney just doesn't shoot straight.

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