7 thoughts on “Anti Dick Cheney demonstration in Australia, 22 February

  1. **Why Dick Cheney Cracked Up**

    by FRANK RICH:
    The New York Times
    Feb. 4, 2007

    In the days since Dick Cheney lost it on CNN, our nation’s armchair
    shrinks have had a blast. The vice president who boasted of “enormous
    successes” in Iraq and barked “hogwash” at the congenitally mild Wolf
    Blitzer has been roundly judged delusional, pathologically dishonest or
    just plain nuts. But what else is new? We identified those diagnoses
    long ago.

    The more intriguing question is what ignited this particularly violent
    public flare-up.The answer can be found in the timing of the CNN
    interview, which was conducted the day after the start of the perjury
    trial of Mr. Cheney’s former top aide, Scooter Libby. The vice
    president’s on-camera crackup reflected his understandable fear that a
    White House cover-up was crumbling. He knew that sworn testimony in a
    Washington courtroom would reveal still more sordid details about how
    the administration lied to take the country into war in Iraq.

    He knew that those revelations could cripple the White House’s current
    campaign to escalate that war and foment apocalyptic scenarios about
    Iran. Scariest of all, he knew that he might yet have to testify under
    oath himself.Mr. Cheney, in other words, understands the danger this
    trial poses to the White House even as some of Washington remains
    oblivious. From the start, the capital has belittled the Joseph and
    Valerie Wilson affair as “a tempest in a teapot,” as David Broder of The
    Washington Post reiterated just five months ago.

    When “all of the facts come out in this case, it’s going to be laughable
    because the consequences are not that great,” Bob Woodward said in 2005.
    Or, as Robert Novak suggested in 2003 before he revealed Ms. Wilson’s
    identity as a C.I.A. officer in his column, “weapons of mass destruction
    or uranium from Niger” are “little elitist issues that don’t bother most
    of the people.” Those issues may not trouble Mr. Novak, but they do loom
    large to other people, especially those who sent their kids off to war
    over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and nonexistent uranium.

    In terms of the big issues, the question of who first leaked Ms.
    Wilson’s identity (whether Mr. Libby, Richard Armitage, Ari Fleischer or
    Karl Rove) to which journalist (whether Mr. Woodward, Mr. Novak, Judith
    Miller or Matt Cooper) has always been a red herring. It’s entirely
    possible that the White House has always been telling the truth when it
    says that no one intended to unmask a secret agent. (No one has been
    charged with that crime.)

    The White House is also telling the truth when it repeatedly says that
    Mr. Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson on his C.I.A.-sponsored African trip
    to check out a supposed Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. (Another red
    herring, since Mr. Wilson didn’t make that accusation in the first
    place.) But if the administration is telling the truth on these narrow
    questions and had little to hide about the Wilson trip per se, its wild
    overreaction to the episode was an incriminating sign it was hiding
    something else.

    According to testimony in the Libby case, the White House went berserk
    when Mr. Wilson published his Op-Ed article in The Times in July 2003
    about what he didn’t find in Africa. Top officials gossiped incessantly
    about both Wilsons to anyone who would listen, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby
    conferred about them several times a day, and finally Mr. Libby, known
    as an exceptionally discreet White House courtier, became so sloppy that
    his alleged lying landed him with five felony counts.

    The explanation for the hysteria has long been obvious. The White House
    was terrified about being found guilty of a far greater crime than
    outing a C.I.A. officer: lying to the nation to hype its case for war.
    When Mr. Wilson, an obscure retired diplomat, touched that raw nerve,
    all the president’s men panicked because they knew Mr. Wilson’s modest
    finding in Africa was the tip of a far larger iceberg. They knew that
    there was still far more damning evidence of the administration’s W.M.D.
    lies lurking in the bowels of the bureaucracy.

    Thanks to the commotion caused by the leak case, that damning evidence
    has slowly dribbled out. By my count we now know of at least a half-
    dozen instances before the start of the Iraq war when various
    intelligence agencies and others signaled that evidence of Iraq’s
    purchase of uranium in Africa might be dubious or fabricated. (These are
    detailed in the timelines at frankrich.com/timeline.htm.) The
    culmination of these warnings arrived in January 2003, the same month as
    the president’s State of the Union address, when the White House
    received a memo from the National Intelligence Council, the coordinating
    body for all American spy agencies, stating unequivocally that the claim
    was baseless.

    Nonetheless President Bush brandished that fearful “uranium from Africa”
    in his speech to Congress as he hustled the country into war in Iraq.If
    the war had been a cakewalk, few would have cared to investigate the
    administration’s deceit at its inception. But by the time Mr. Wilson’s
    Op-Ed article appeared – some five months after the State of the Union
    and two months after “Mission Accomplished” – there was something
    terribly wrong with the White House’s triumphal picture.

    More than 60 American troops had been killed since Mr. Bush celebrated
    the end of “major combat operations” by prancing about an aircraft
    carrier. No W.M.D. had been found, and we weren’t even able to turn on
    the lights in Baghdad. For the first time, more than half of Americans
    told a Washington Post-ABC News poll that the level of casualties was
    “unacceptable.” It was urgent, therefore, that the awkward questions
    raised by Mr. Wilson’s revelation of his Africa trip be squelched as
    quickly as possible. He had to be smeared as an inconsequential has-
    been whose mission was merely a trivial boondoggle arranged by his wife.

    The C.I.A., which had actually resisted the uranium fictions, had to be
    strong-armed into taking the blame for the 16 errant words in the State
    of the Union speech. What we are learning from Mr. Libby’s trial is just
    what a herculean effort it took to execute this two-pronged cover-up
    after Mr. Wilson’s article appeared. Mr. Cheney was the hands- on
    manager of the 24/7 campaign of press manipulation and high-stakes
    character assassination, with Mr. Libby as his chief hatchet man. Though
    Mr. Libby’s lawyers are now arguing that their client was a sacrificial
    lamb thrown to the feds to shield Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby actually was – and
    still is – a stooge for the vice president.

    Whether he will go to jail for his misplaced loyalty is the human drama
    of his trial. But for the country there are bigger issues at
    stake, and they are not, as the White House would have us believe,
    ancient history. The administration propaganda flimflams that sold us
    the war are now being retrofitted to expand and extend it. In a replay
    of the run-up to the original invasion, a new National Intelligence
    Estimate, requested by Congress in August to summarize all intelligence
    assessments on Iraq, was mysteriously delayed until last week, well
    after the president had set his surge.

    Even the declassified passages released on Friday – the grim takes on
    the weak Iraqi security forces and the spiraling sectarian violence –
    foretell that the latest plan for victory is doomed. (As a White House
    communications aide testified at the Libby trial, this administration
    habitually releases bad news on Fridays because “fewer people pay
    attention when it’s reported on Saturday.”) A Pentagon inspector
    general’s report, uncovered by Business Week last week, was also kept on
    the q.t.: it shows that even as more American troops are being thrown
    into the grinder in Iraq, existing troops lack the guns and ammunition
    to “effectively complete their missions.” Army and Marine Corps
    commanders told The Washington Post that both armor and trucks were in
    such short supply that their best hope is that “five brigades of
    up-armored Humvees fall out of the sky.”

    Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of Colin Powell’s notorious W.M.D.
    pantomime before the United Nations Security Council, a fair amount of
    it a Cheney-Libby production. To mark this milestone, the White House is
    reviving the same script to rev up the war’s escalation, this time
    hyping Iran-Iraq connections instead of Al Qaeda-Iraq connections. In
    his Jan. 10 prime-time speech on Iraq, Mr. Bush said that Iran was
    supplying “advanced weaponry and training to our enemies,” even though
    the evidence suggests that Iran is actually in bed with our “friends” in
    Iraq, the Maliki government.
    .

    [NOTE FROM ME: There is evidence that it is Saudi Arabia that is
    supplying the Iraqi Sunnis (the supposed insurgents), since the
    Saudis are also Sunnis. If, indeed, Iran is supplying anyone in
    Iraq, it would be the Shiites, the Maliki government — you know,
    our “friends” there. So, why isn’t Bush complaining about Saudi
    Arabia? I will tell you. Bush and his father have been business
    partners of the Saudi royal family for decades.]
    .

    The administration promised a dossier to back up its claims, but that
    too has been delayed twice amid reports of what The Times calls “a
    continuing debate about how well the information proved the Bush
    administration’s case.” Call it a coincidence – though there are no
    coincidences – but it’s only fitting that the Libby trial began as news
    arrived of the death of E. Howard Hunt, the former C.I.A. agent whose
    bungling of the Watergate break-in sent him to jail and led to the
    unraveling of the Nixon presidency two years later.

    Still, we can’t push the parallels too far. No one died in Watergate.
    This time around our country can’t wait two more years for the White
    House to be stopped from playing its games with American blood.

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