Cheney backs away from Iraq WMD claim

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ARogueTrader, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. Cheney backs away from Iraq WMD claim

    By Stefan Wagstyl in Rome and Guy Dinmore in Washington
    Published: January 27 2004 20:08 | Last Updated: January 27 2004 20:08

    Dick Cheney, US vice-president, on Tuesday defended the US decision to invade Iraq but, in a notable shift of emphasis, he left open the question of whether Saddam Hussein had possessed weapons of mass destruction - a claim he made repeatedly before the war.

    In his first public response to David Kay, who resigned last Friday as the chief US arms inspector saying pre-war intelligence was wrong, Mr Cheney said: "There's still work to be done to ascertain exactly what's there, and I am not prepared to make a final judgment until they have completed their work."

    The vice-president had been one of the administration's most vocal champions of the view that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. Shortly before the war he also claimed it had "reconstituted" nuclear arms.

    As voting began in the New Hampshire primary to choose the Democratic candidate for November's presidential election, Mr Cheney also rejected an assertion by John Kerry, front-runner in the polls, that the administration had broken promises over the war. "We used force only because all other options had failed," he said in an interview in Rome with European newspapers, including the Financial Times.

    During the interview, Mr Cheney highlighted comments by Mr Kay which supported the case that the former Iraqi leader had sought to develop prohibited weapons long after big stockpiles were destroyed in the early 1990s.

    He quoted Mr Kay as saying Iraq had continued "until the end" to develop biological weapons, such as ricin, had maintained a missile programme and had restarted its nuclear programme in 2000-1.

    Meanwhile, in Washington President George W. Bush repeated his assertion that Mr Hussein had been "a grave and gathering threat to America and the world". Speaking to reporters during a meeting with Aleksander Kwasniewski, the Polish president, Mr Bush complimented Mr Kay but implicitly went against his findings by defending the US intelligence services.

    "Well, first of all, I have got great confidence in our intelligence community," Mr Bush said while not directly addressing the question of whether Iraq actually had prohibited weapons.

    On Tuesday, Mr Kay went further in seeking to justify the US case for war despite his belief that Mr Hussein's programmes had failed, in part because his scientists had cheated him. "I think, at the end of the inspection process, we'll paint a picture of Iraq that was far more dangerous than even we thought it was before the war," he told NBC.

    Mr Cheney repeated the conciliatory message he has delivered during his trip to Europe, seeking international co-operation in Iraqi reconstruction and war on terror. But he never wavered from his insistence that the US had been right to fight the war.
  2. i'd give my left nut to see that fat fuck go over to iraq and fight his war in the trenches with my friends..

    he wouldn't last 5min in the desert.
  3. George Bush is just like LBJ . . .

    "Guns and Butter" but with tax cuts and a $470 million dollar budget deficit. And on the way there, we trample the Bill of Rights, have no respect for our environment, and make government as big as we can while only creating 277,000 new jobs since last July.

    The White House is most definitely up for grabs in November.
  4. I would like to know how the tax cut has benefited the economy.

    Did the savings from dividend tax decrease result in more spending on non essential items that in turn create jobs?

    Did the savings from dividend tax cuts prompt people to take that money and start a new business in which to hire new people?

    The trickle down theory is a fraud, and even more so when the tax savings comes to only those who can own enough shares of stock that pay dividends to make a significant difference.

    Had we had tax cuts that actually put the money back to work in the economy is one idea, but allowing savings on stock dividends prompts most people to simply re-invest that money back into stocks.

    We all know that the increase in the price of stocks, as evidenced by the run in the stock market, has shown yet no significant increase in economic growth (hint: take military spending and security out of GDP) nor jobs.

    Follow the money. See who is better off financially as a result of the Bush administration, and see who is worse off, and you find GW's real constituency.

  5. 88% of Americans will receive less than $100/yr from GWB's tax cuts.

    (For the record I am against inheritance and dividend taxes).
  6. Office of the Press Secretary
    January 27, 2004

    Q On the question of Iraq, two issues. First, you've been using the phrase, "gathering threat" and "grave danger," which obviously are words that the President, himself, used many times before the war. You have not used the word "imminent threat." And the essence of Dr. Kay's comments recently would suggest that there was no way for there to be an imminent threat.

    Does the President now believe that, in fact, while the threat was gathering, while the threat may have been grave, that, in fact, it was not imminent?

    MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've said all along that it was a grave and gathering threat. And that in a post-September 11th world, you must confront gathering threats before it's too late.

    I think some in the media have chosen to use the word "imminent." Those were not words --

    Q The President himself never used that word?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Those were not words we used. We used "grave and gathering threat." We made it very clear that it was a gathering threat, that it's important to confront gathering threats in this post-September 11th world, because of the new dangers and new threats that we face.

    Q So then under your interpretation, if you're not using the word "imminent" and the President didn't use it, this was not a preemptive attack, this was a preventative war? Is that the White House position?

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, again, September 11th taught us that we must confront gathering threats before it's too late. Saddam Hussein -- Saddam Hussein had ample opportunity to come clean.

    Q I hear you, Scott. But there's a definitional difference. "Preemptive" has to do with imminent threats. "Preventative" has to do with non-imminent threats.

    MR. McCLELLAN: He was a gathering threat, and it was important that we confront that threat. I don't know that I necessarily agree with your distinctions that you're making there.

    Q Okay. On the second issue, which has to do with waiting for the final report to come in, Mr. Kay said -- Dr. Kay said that he believed that the work currently was about 85 percent complete. What you're telling us today is that before the White House decides whether or not to conduct an investigation or work on intelligence reform on these issues, you are going to wait for a complete report to be completed--

    MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I think the CIA has already said that they're looking into--into some of the intelligence. They've already publicly said that. What I'm saying is that it's too soon to draw firm conclusions. You need to let the Iraq Survey Group complete its work.

    But you mentioned a few things that Dr. Kay said. I would point out that Dr. Kay agreed fully with the statement that Iraq was a gathering threat. He -- and Dr. Kay also was the one who said that Iraq is a very dangerous place and that Saddam Hussein had the intention and he had the capability. And, certainly, in a post-September 11th world, someone that has his history must be confronted before it's too late.

    Q Just to be clear I understand what you're saying here, though. The President himself is not going to seek intelligence reform from -- directed from here, as opposed to internal CIA--

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, I was pointing out the CIA was already looking into things. I said, yes, we very much want to compare what we knew before the war with what we learn once the Iraq Survey Group complete its work--completes its work. But it's too soon to make those judgments now. It's premature to get into drawing firm conclusions, because their work is ongoing. And I think all of you can appreciate the importance of gathering all the facts that you can in finishing that mission before you draw firm conclusions.

    Q But, Scott, didn't the President draw a firm conclusion on this when he went --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Steve. I'll come back to you -- that he was a gathering threat, and it's been shown that he was.

    Q But you just said it's too early to draw those conclusions.

    MR. McCLELLAN: It's been shown that he was a gathering threat.

    Q You just said it's too earlyto draw those conclusions.

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, no. I'm referring to comparing what we knew before the war with what we learn once the Iraq Survey Group completes is work. So I think you're drawing a different distinction there.

    Q How long do you think it will take to complete the work?

    MR. McCLELLAN: That's a decision that Charles Duelfer will make as the new head of the Iraq Survey Group. I think he addressed some of that last week. But he's the one --

    Q -- tell us when it will --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I mean, that's totally up to the Iraq Survey Group. And I think it's a very important issue for them to continue to pursue their mission, and those are decisions they will make. The one thing the President has said is, find the truth.


    Q The 9/11 Commission is seeking a two-month extension for the report, from May until July. Is the White House about to grant that?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think -- it's Congress, I would remind you, is the one that set the original statutory deadline. There was a lot of discussion that went into setting up the commission and that was all part of it. And certainly from our standpoint, what we want to continue to do is to provide unprecedented cooperation with the commission. We're working very much in a spirit of cooperation with the commission; we will continue to do so. I think it's important that they move forward as quickly as possible to complete their work, especially given the subject of it. I mean, if there's information that we can learn that can help prevent a future attack from happening, it's important that we have that mission -- that we have that information.

    Q Does the White House support an extension?

    MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

    Q Does the White House support an extension?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, Congress is the one who set that deadline when they set up the commission. We think it's important that they move forward as quickly as possible to complete their work. And, obviously, those types of discussions would involve Congress, but we continue to believe that they ought to move forward as quickly as possible to gather the information that they can that can help us prevent something like September 11th from ever happening again. And the best way to do that is to continue taking the action we are to take the fight to the enemy.


    Q Just one last kick at this can. Don't David Kay's statements really illuminate the following concept, and that is that when the President took the world to war against Iraq in March of last year, there was really no way to quantify the current threat posed by Iraq, and that his decision was only made on a best estimate of Iraq's capabilities based on past history?

    MR. McCLELLAN: I think it was a decision that Saddam Hussein chose. Remember, Saddam Hussein was the one who was given one final opportunity to comply or face serious consequences. Saddam Hussein is the one who chose defiance. And as I said, given his history, and given the events of September 11th, we could not afford to rely on the good intentions of Saddam Hussein.

    Q Will you accept the concept, though, that there was no way to quantify the current threat posed by Iraq when the President was taking this country to war?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Again, it was intelligence that was shared by agencies around the world. It was intelligence that was shared by the United Nations, not only our government. And will you acknowledge that Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering threat? He was a dangerous man. And that's what -- that's what it was based on.

    Q I wasn't making the decision for war --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're asking questions. But Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering danger, and he has now been removed from power. The world is safer and better because of the actions that we took.

    Q Thank you.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.