Saturday, September 09, 2006
CHENEY ON RUSSERT The Vice President will appear on Meet The Press tomorrow morning. It won't be the first time.
MR. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to [September 11, 2001]?December 9, 2001:
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?March 16, 2003:
CHENEY: Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that's been pretty well confirmed, that [Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.
Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don't know at this point. But that's clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.
MR.RUSSERT: What do you think is the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq?September 14, 2003:
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think I've just given it, Tim, in terms of the combination of his development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons.
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 you'll 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. ElBaradei, 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 don't have any reason to believe they’re any more valid this time than they've been in the past.
MR. RUSSERT: And you are convinced the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: They have so far...And if you look at the opposition, they've come together, I think, very effectively, with representatives from Shia, Sunni and Kurdish elements in the population. They understand the importance of preserving and building on an Iraqi national identity...I think the prospects of being able to achieve this kind of success, if you will, from a political standpoint, are probably better than they would be for virtually any other country and under similar circumstances in that part of the world.
MR. RUSSERT: The army's top general said that we would have to have several hundred thousand troops there for several years in order to maintain stability.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree. To suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don’t think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement.
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: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think it's not surprising that people make that connection.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We don’t know...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.
MR. RUSSERT: We have not been greeted as liberated.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think we have by most Iraqis.