Memo: To Fans, Browsers, Clients
From Jude Wanniski
Re Dick Cheney on Meet the Press
These are excerpts from the Vice President's Sunday interview on NBC by Tim Russert, regarding the situation in Iraq and the controversial issues that have arisen in recent weeks. As you will see, I intervene throughout to offer my comments on Mr. Cheney’s assertions. It makes it clear why this is a “gang that cannot shoot straight” with the American people, as it is armed at the very top with inaccurate information and assumptions. The opening is deleted as there is nothing awry in his answers to the warm-up questions. It is when Russert asks Cheney about the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda that the interview gets interesting.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection [between Iraq and Al Qaeda]?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We don't know. You and I talked about this two years ago. I can remember you asking me this question just a few days after the original attack. At the time I said no, we didnt have any evidence of that. Subsequent to that, we've learned a couple of things. We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW and CW, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved -- the Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaeda organization.
WANNISKI: There is no record of any relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda in the ‘90s. This is the first report of Iraqis training al-Qaeda personnel in Baghdad on BW/CW systems or providing bomb-making expertise and advice to al-Qaeda. If there was such a record, it would be front-page news. Cheney is not making it up on the spot, but is probably leaning on a rumor that has not had the support of the intelligence services. In fact, there is ample evidence that Osama bin Laden in 1991 offered King Fahd of Saudi Arabia his services in fighting the Iraqis should they move beyond Kuwait to invade Saudi Arabia. He did so trying to discourage Fahd from permitting American troops from entering the Islamic holy land. Hardened intelligence analysts ridicule a Saddam/Osama pact.
CHENEY: 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.
WANNISKI: False. The official Czech position – and that of the CIA and FBI -- is that no such meeting took place.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the situation in Iraq. We all remember this picture from May 1. The president on the USS Lincoln on May 1; mission accomplished. Since that time, these are the rather haunting figures coming out of Iraq. We had lost 138 soldiers before May 1, and 685 wounded, injured. Since that time, since the president came on the carrier and said major combat was over, we've lost 158, and 856 wounded and injured. Those numbers are pretty troubling.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, it's significant, Tim. Any loss of life or injuries suffered by American military personnel is significant. Everyone wishes that that weren't necessary. But from the standpoint of the activity we're engaged in over there and what we've been able to accomplish over the last two years, I think it's important to keep all of this in perspective. I looked at some numbers yesterday. I had them run the numbers, for example, in terms of our casualties since we launched into Afghanistan, began the war on terror a little over two years ago now. And the number killed in combat, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, as of yesterday, was about 213. When you add in those from non-hostile causes -- the plane crashes, helicopter goes down without hostile fire -- we've got a total of 372 fatalities since we started the war.
Remember, we lost 3,000 people here on 9/11. And what we've been able to accomplish -- although I must say we regret any casualties. You'd like to be able do everything casualty-free. When you think about what we've accomplished in terms of taking Afghanistan -- we had a total of 30 killed in action in Afghanistan -- taking down the Taliban and destroying the capacity of al-Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base to attack the United States, launching an attack into Iraq, destroying the Iraqi armed forces, taking down the government of Iraq, getting rid of Saddam Hussein, capturing 42 out of the 55 top leaders, and beginning what I think has been fairly significant success in terms of putting Iraq back together again, the price that we've had to pay is not out of line, and certainly wouldn't lead me to suggest or think that the strategy is flawed or needs to be changed.
WANNISKI: There is no logic in comparing the loss of 3,000 lives on 9-11 with the American lives lost in the alleged "achievements" to date in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein and capturing 42 of the 55 its top leaders. Having failed to prove that the regime was connected to 9-11 or was an imminent threat to the region or to the US, Cheney cannot say it is worth the lost lives and treasure to have done this in reaction to 9-11. It would be like saying after Pearl Harbor that we had to invade Korea to get revenge against Tokyo and succeeded in capturing most of Korea's top leaders.
MR. RUSSERT: So the resistance in Iraq is coming from those who were responsible for 9/11?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No, I was careful not to say that. With respect to 9/11, 9/11, as I said at the beginning of the show, changed everything. And one of the things it changed is we recognized that time was not on our side, that in this part of the world, in particular, given the problems we've encountered in Afghanistan, which forced us to go in and take action there, as well as in Iraq, that we, in fact, had to move on it. The relevance for 9/11 is that what 9/11 marked was the beginning of a struggle in which the terrorists come at us and strike us here on our home territory. And it's a global operation. It doesn't know national boundaries or national borders. And the commitment of the United States going into Afghanistan and take down the Taliban and stand up a new government, to go into Iraq and take down the Saddam Hussein regime and stand up a new government is a vital part of our long-term strategy to win the war on terror.
WANNISKI: Cheney here plainly makes the argument that terrorism knows no national boundaries, yet he immediately follows with the rationale for bringing down the governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Taliban offered to turn Osama bin Laden over to the UN if it was supplied evidence of his connection to 9-11, evidence we said we had but would not share with Kabul. The regime was not being unreasonable. The Pentagon, though, wanted to get on with revenge for 9-11 by unleashing its firepower on the country. Even before that, the Pentagon intellectuals argued that Iraq should be immediately attacked to replace the regime, with no evidence except the report that Mohamed Atta had been in Prague meeting with an Iraqi, a report subsequently discredited.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to one of the most quoted passages from MEET THE PRESS when you were on in March, and that was trying to anticipate the reaction we would receive from the Iraqi people. Let's watch:
(Videotape, March 16, 2003):
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.
MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct and we're not treated as liberators but as conquerors and the Iraqis begin to resist particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly and bloody battle with significant American casualties?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don't think it's unlikely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with various groups and individuals, people who've devoted their lives from the outside to try and change things inside of Iraq.
The read we get on the people of Iraq is there's no question but what they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
MR. RUSSERT: We have not been greeted as liberated.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think we have by most Iraqis. I think the majority of Iraqis are thankful for the fact that the United States is there, that we came and we took down the Saddam Hussein government. And I think if you go in vast areas of the country, the Shia in the south, which are about 60 percent of the population, 20-plus percent in the north, in the Kurdish areas, and in some of the Sunni areas, you'll find that, for the most part, a majority of Iraqis support what we did.
WANNISKI: In his March interview, Cheney does rest his case on being treated as liberators by citing his meetings with Iraqi exiles. It was clear in March from dispatches from our own national media that Iraqis were opposed to the war and were not hostile to Saddam to the point of wishing him removed by war.
MR. RUSSERT: People like Ahmed Chalabi, former Iraqis who came in and briefed -- you talked about -- did they sell us a bill of goods? Did they tell us this would be easier, that we'd be welcomed with flowers, and not the kind of armed resistance we're being met with?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think they felt -- certainly, they were advocates of the U.S. action because they wanted to liberate Iraq from, you know, what has been one of the worst dictatorships of the 20th century, the Saddam Hussein regime. And I see and receive evidence on a fairly regular basis. I mean, if you go out and look at what's happening on the ground, you'll find that there is widespread support. There was a poll done, just random in the last week, first one I've seen carefully done; admittedly, it's a difficult area to poll in. Zogby International did it with American Enterprise magazine. But that's got very positive news in it in terms of the numbers it shows with respect to the attitudes to what Americans have done.
One of the questions it asked is: If you could have any model for the kind of government you'd like to have -- and they were given five choices -- which would it be?: The U.S. wins hands down. If you want to ask them do they want an Islamic government established, by 2:1 margins they say no, including the Shia population. If you ask how long they want Americans to stay, over 60 percent of the people polled said they want the U.S. to stay for at least another year. So admittedly there are problems, especially in that area where Saddam Hussein was from, where people have benefited most from his regime and who've got the most to lose if we're successful in our enterprise, and continuing attacks from terror. But to suggest somehow that that's representative of the country at large or the Iraqi people are opposed to what we've done in Iraq or are actively and aggressively trying to undermine it, I just think that's not true.
WANNISKI: The Zogby/AEI poll shows a majority of the Iraqi people most admire the United States, but there are no polls that show a majority of Iraqis favoring the occupation. The real polling on the ground is violent disapproval of the occupation.
MR. RUSSERT: You also told me, Mr. Vice President, in March that you thought Saddam would be captured or killed, turned in by his own people. Why hasn't that happened if they view us as liberators?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, we're working on it, and well continue to work on it. His sons were turned in by the Iraqi people. A great many of the folks that we've captured of those top 55, the 42 we've got, a great many of them were turned in as a result of tips from the Iraqis. And as we're there longer and get an Iraqi government stood up, get more and more Iraqis involved in the security service and the security force, the intelligence, I think, will improve and people will be willing to come forward and offer even more information than they have in the past that'll help us wrap up these bad guys, and that includes get Saddam Hussein.
WANNISKI: Many of the 42 "captured" simply gave themselves up when they learned they were being sought. None have yet been charged with any crimes, yet they remain in captivity, denied access to their families and the international press corps. If they have secrets to tell about crimes committed by the regime, none have yet been revealed by the Bremer regime.
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. But we've got a very good man now in charge of the operation, David Kay. He used to run UNSCOM, a highly qualified, technically qualified and able individual. He's in charge of the operation now.
WANNISKI: David Kay never ran UNSCOM. He was associated with the IAEA Action Team in Iraq for a few months in 1991. He is in no sense ‘technically qualified’. Kay has a PhD in liberal arts with no background or training in chemical or biological weapons. He is now a CIA operative and was almost certainly a CIA plant at IAEA, serving the interests of the Pentagon intellectuals even then.
CHENEY: And I also think, Tim, that if you go back and look at what we found to date, that we -- there's no doubt in my mind but what Saddam Hussein had these capabilities. This wasn't an idea cooked up overnight by a handful of people, either in the administration or out of the CIA. The reporting that led to the National Intelligence Estimate, upon which I based my statements to you, that was produced a year ago now, the essence of which has since been declassified, that was the product of hundreds of people working over probably 20 years, back at least to the Osirak reactor in 1981.
WANNISKI: We now know the NIE was a consensus of the intelligence agencies, none of which have capabilities in the scientific aspects of nuclear weaponry, and the Department of Energy, which does. The record indicates DOE was not impressed with the intelligence reports collected from Iraqi exiles and voted against the idea of a nuclear threat. It was outvoted. Cheney may not have been told about how the NIE estimates came about, although there are plenty of unofficial reports that the Pentagon wanted a negative report and got it.
CHENEY: The conclusions in that NIE, I think, are very valid. And I think we will find that in fact they are valid. What we're dealing with here is a regime that had to learn after we hit them in '91 that anything above ground was likely to be destroyed in an air campaign. They'd gone through many years of inspections. They knew they had to hide and bury their capabilities in this region inside their civilian structure. And I think that's what they did. And if you look -- we'll talk about the nuclear program. The judgment in the NIE was that if Saddam could acquire fissile material, weapons-grade material, that he would have a nuclear weapon within a few months to a year. That was the judgment of the intelligence community of the United States, and they had a high degree of confidence in it.
WANNISKI: This indicates Cheney was not told about how the NIE report was voted upon. The nuclear scientists here and those at the International Atomic Energy Agency knew it was not possible for Saddam to acquire fissile material, that he had spent billions on trying to do so in the 1980's and had given up even before the Gulf War. UNSCOM's chief weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, has consistently argued that Iraq's industrial capability for producing WMD had been destroyed a decade ago and could not be reconstituted without being spotted by satellite.
CHENEY: What do we know ahead? Well, we know he had worked on the program for 20 years. We know he had technicians who knew how do this stuff because they had been working on it over that period of time. We believed, the community believed, that he had a workable design for a bomb. And we know he had 500 tons of uranium. It is there today at Tuwaitha, under seal of the International Atomic Energy Agency. All those are facts that are basically not in dispute. 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.
WANNISKI: Cheney is wrong here across the board. We know Iraq had a nuclear weapons program for less than 10 years, that it only began it after Israel bombed its Osirak nuclear power plant in 1981 (with the assistance of the Pentagon). We know he had 500 tons of yellowcake or "uranium oxide," which is of no use unless converted into highly-enriched uranium (HEU). This is the program Saddam abandoned when it became clear to him that his scientists were only able to produce "grams" of HEU when several hundred pounds would be needed to produce one Hiroshima sized nuke.
CHENEY: 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 believe he'd developed the capacity to go mobile with his BW production capability because, again, in reaction to what we had done to him in '91. 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.
WANNISKI: Cheney sounds like he has not been briefed by his staff for several months on these issues. None of the UN inspections teams found evidence of any robust WMD programs in the last decade, only evidence of programs undertaken in the 1980's. It is most surprising to hear Cheney talk about the "mobile biological facilities" capable of producing "anthrax or smallpox or whatever else" when it is now conceded by all the experts that the mobile units were not meant for CW or BW production, but were used to produce hydrogen to fill weather balloons. This is what Iraq asserted from the beginning. The Vice President has still not been told about this. Tim Russert, who knows all about this, was as we shall see -- too kind to point it out to Cheney in a follow-up. Indeed, Russert did not challenge Cheney on any of his misconceptions or misstatements.
CHENEY: So on CW and chemical weapons, my guess is it's buried inside his civilian infrastructure. That's not an unusual place to put it. And, again, David Kay's task is to look for the people that were involved in the program, to find documentary evidence to back it up, to find physical evidence when he can find that. It's a hard task, but I have got great confidence that he can do this. And again, the whole notion that somehow there’s nothing to the notion that Saddam Hussein had WMD or had developed WMD, it just strikes me as fallacious. It's not valid now. Nobody drove into Baghdad and had somebody say, "Hey, there's the building over there where all of our WMD’s stored." But that is not the way the system worked.
WANNISKI: It is now being widely reported that David Kay’s search for WMD has come up empty, so embarrassingly empty that his report may not be made public. It is of course not possible to bury chemical or biological weapons inside a civilian infrastructure. Weapons can only be built in weapons plants, and as Ritter has pointed out, all such facilities were destroyed under UNSCOM’s supervision.
MR. RUSSERT: There’s real debate about those labs. But I want to talk about something very specific. And that was the presidents State of the Union message when he said that the British had learned that Saddam was acquiring uranium from Africa. That was in January. In March the head of the International Energy Atomic Agency, El Baradei, issued this statement: A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations chief nuclear inspector said in a report...Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed not authentic after carefully scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council. Also, El Baradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors. There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities, El Baradei said.
Eight days after that, you were on MEET THE PRESS, and we...
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...talked about that specifically. Lets watch:
(Videotape, March 16, 2003):
MR. RUSSERT: And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree, yes. And youll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community, disagree. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. El Baradei, frankly, is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq is concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I dont have any reason to believe they’re any more valid this time than they’ve been in the past.
MR. RUSSERT: Reconstituted nuclear weapons. You misspoke.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Yeah. I did misspeak. I said repeatedly during the show weapons capability. We There was never any evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon.
WANNISKI: Cheney also misspoke on the IAEA in that March interview, a few days before the President pulled the trigger. This had been a campaign by the warhawks to discredit the IAEA’s assessments in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 that Saddam did not have a nuclear weapons program or the capacity to begin one again. Cheney was told by his staff that the IAEA consistently missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. But that was in the 1980s. At that time, the IAEA only had authority to keep track of the small amount of fissile material Iraq had acquired for the Osiraq plant which Israel had destroyed. At one point, David Kay had been assigned to work for Hans Blix at the IAEA, but was let go when it became clear he was not qualified, and almost certainly a CIA plant.
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Ambassador Joe Wilson, a year before that, was sent over by the CIA because you raised the question about uranium from Africa. He says he came back from Niger and said that, in fact, he could not find any documentation that, in fact, Niger had sent uranium to Iraq or engaged in that activity and reported it back to the proper channels. Were you briefed on his findings in February, March of 2002?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. Id heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, What do we know about this? They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know, end of statement. And Joe Wilson. I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.
I guess the intriguing thing, Tim, on the whole thing, this question of whether or not the Iraqis were trying to acquire uranium in Africa. In the British report, this week, the Committee of the British Parliament, which just spent 90 days investigating all of this, revalidated their British claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa. What was in the State of the Union speech and what was in the original British White papers. So there may be difference of opinion there. I don't know what the truth is on the ground with respect to that, but I guess like I say, I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...
WANNISKI: Cheney of course knew the whole story from his chief of staff, Scooter Libby. He is here able to say "Wilson never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back" because the report was verbal. As for the British government revalidating its claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa, by this time Cheney’s staff at least must know that it could not have made use of uranium oxide if it in fact acquired it because it did not have the thousands of gas centrifuges needed to convert it into HEU, and then integrated into a bomb weighing a few tons with no system to deliver it. Cheney is, at best, kidding himself. The British report only says it was "reasonable" to suspect Saddam was trying to buy uranium from an African state.
MR. RUSSERT: This is what concerns people, that the administration hyped the intelligence, misled the American people. This article from The Washington Post about pressuring from Cheney visits: Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq’s weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which some analyst felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administrations policy objectives, according to senior intelligence officials. With Cheney taking the lead in the administration last August in advocating military action against Iraq by claiming it had weapons of mass destruction, the visits by the vice president and his chief of staff sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here, one senior agency official said.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: In terms of asking questions, I plead guilty. I ask a hell of a lot of questions. That’s my job. I’ve had an interest in the intelligence area since I worked for Gerry Ford 30 years ago, served on the Intel Committee in the House for years in the 80s, ran a big part of the intelligence community when I was secretary of Defense in the early 90s. This is a very important area. Its one the presidents asked me to work on, and I ask questions all the time. I think if you’re going to provide the intelligence and advice to the president of the United States to make life and death decisions, you need to be able to defend your conclusions, go into an arena where you can make the arguments about why you believe what you do based on the intelligence were got.
MR. RUSSERT: No pressure?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Shouldn’t be any pressure. I cant think of a single instance. Maybe somebody can produce one. I’m unaware of any where the community changed a judgment that they made because I asked questions.
MR. RUSSERT: If they were wrong, Mr. Vice President, shouldn’t we have a wholesale investigation into the intelligence failure that they predicted...
VICE PRES. CHENEY: What failure?
MR. RUSSERT: That Saddam had biological, chemical and is developing a nuclear program.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: My guess is in the end, they’ll be proven right, Tim. On the intelligence business, first of all, its intelligence. There are judgments involved in all of this. But we’ve got, I think, some very able people in the intelligence business that review the material here. This was a crucial subject. It was extensively covered for years. Were very good at it. As I say, the British just revalidated their claim. So I’m not sure what the argument is about here. I think in the final analysis, we will find that the Iraqis did have a robust program.
How do you explain why Saddam Hussein, if he had no program, wouldn’t come clean and say, I haven’t got a program. Come look? Then he would have sanctions lifted. He’d earned $100 billion more in oil revenue over the last several years. He’d still be in power. The reason he didn’t was because obviously he couldn’t comply and wouldn’t comply with the U.N. resolutions demanding that he give up his WMD.
WANNISKI: This is one of the most illogical arguments developed by the Pentagon intellectuals, who fed it to Cheney and several senior Republican Senators and Representatives who have repeated it on the talk shows. The fact now is becoming plain that Saddam Hussein has been telling the truth since the end of 1991 that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no programs to produce them. If he had no program, says the Vice President, why wouldn’t he come clean and said, Come look? But that’s exactly what he did over the nine years of UNSCOM inspections of the 1990s, when nothing was ever found. And it is what he did completely in the months from last September on when he invited anyone in authority to come look, including the CIA, and the UNMOVIK inspectors came and looked and looked and looked and found nothing.
CHENEY: The Security Council by a 15-to-nothing vote a year ago found him still in violation of those U.N. Security Council resolutions. A lot of the reporting isn’t U.S. reporting. Its U.N. reporting on the supplies and stocks of VX and nerve agent and anthrax and so forth that he’s never accounted for. So I say Im not willing at all at this point to buy the proposition that somehow Saddam Hussein was innocent and he had no WMD and some guy out at the CIA, because I called him, cooked up a report saying he did. That’s crazy. That makes no sense. It bears no resemblance to reality whatsoever. And in terms of asking questions, you bet I do. I’ve seen in times past when there’s been faulty intelligence, because they don’t always get it right; I think, for example, of having missed the downfall of the Soviet Union. And so I ask a lot of questions based on my years of experience in this business, but that’s what I get paid to do.
WANNISKI: The UN Security Council voted 15-to-0 to resume inspections that had ended in 1998 when the Clinton administration pulled out the inspectors so it could order the bombing of Iraq on the grounds that Iraq was not cooperating. Scott Ritter, who was still on the scene in 1998, insists the Iraqis were cooperating, but were being purposely provoked by the Clinton State Department who had agents inside the inspection teams. It was because of this duplicity that UNSCOM was disbanded with UNMOVIK as its replacement, its agents directly hired and paid by the UN, not the USA. Hans Blix and UNMOVIK indicated they were in the very last stages of cleaning up the questions about VX and anthrax when President Bush, pushed by his Vice President, ordered war, even though the Security Council refused on the grounds that the inspectors found nothing but cooperation from the Iraqi government.
This ended the portion of the Meet the Press interview relating to Iraq. An excellent account of this portion of the press conference can be found at