Shortly after President George W. Bush dodged shoes in Iraq, his vice president dropped another shoe here at home. Dick Cheney's metaphorical gesture, recently broadcast on ABC News, insulted our troops and their families.
A truth-and-reconciliation commission won't even come close to repairing the damage Bush and Cheney have done. If this doesn't rise to the level of impeachable high crimes — to say nothing of misdemeanors — what does?
The war in Iraq didn't have to happen. In so many words, Dick Cheney said so.
Many Americans have called this war "unnecessary" and unworthy of international tensions and countless wounded and dead people. As certain as we are of those facts, it wasn't until Cheney sat down with ABC's Jonathan Karl that what was reported became historically accurate.
As the two-term Republican administration draws to a close, Cheney indicated that our government would have invaded Iraq no matter what.
This counts as new information. All this time Cheney had insisted, despite credible evidence to the contrary, that the case for war was based on solid evidence linking Saddam Hussein's government and the 9/11 terrorists. He insisted there was a stockpile of WMD with our name on it.
Now it seems we know that the administration played Russian roulette with other people's lives and that this war was based on hunches and tea-leaf readings within a vice presidential star chamber.
Remember the "mushroom cloud" scare? Plamegate? Abu Ghraib and Gitmo abuses? Extraordinary renditions? Blackwater? Lies our government told about Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire? Waterboarding? Warrantless wiretapping?
Well, don't give these a second thought, because Dick Cheney sure isn't.
This war — and all that followed — just had to be. Why? Dick Cheney said so; that's why.
While not admitting he lied or deceived anyone, Cheney smugly came close in the ABC interview. Anyone else thinking war crimes here?
Based on the ABC interview, if the administration didn't manipulate intelligence it deliberately ignored it to pursue its own agenda.
ABC's KARL: "You probably saw Karl Rove last week said that if the intelligence had been correct, we probably would not have gone to war."
CHENEY: "I disagree with that. … As I look at the intelligence with respect to Iraq, what they got wrong was that there weren't any stockpiles. What we found in the after-action reports — after the intelligence report was done and then various special groups went and looked at the intelligence and what its validity was — … was that Saddam Hussein still had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the technology; he had the people; he had the basic feedstocks."
"Intelligence," Cheney also said, "it's not a science; it's an art form in many respects, and you don't always get it right." Roll the dice, in other words.
It's not so much that the intelligence was wrong as much as the U.S. policy was. Iraq became a theater for the Bush Doctrine, the policy of pre-emptive warring. Toppling "bad actor" Saddam was some unfinished business by Cheney, defense secretary under former President George H.W. Bush during the Gulf War.
ABC's Karl gave Cheney opportunities to explain or correct earlier controversial statements he made. Apparently, Cheney has no regrets and no apologies.
You'll recall that when he shot a friend in the face on a hunting trip, the victim apologized to Cheney. Is this what families of our wounded and dead vets are supposed to do now that we know Cheney was just making things up as he went along? This is an outrage. So is the silence by Congress and others since Cheney's interview was broadcast.
Cheney said: "We don't do torture. We never have. … We had the Justice Department issue the requisite opinions in order to know where the bright lines were that you could not cross." Requisite opinions?
From the ABC News transcript:
ABC's KARL: "When you were told during another interview that the American public is overwhelmingly against the war, you said, 'So?' Do you regret saying that? Would you take that back."
CHENEY: "No. In effect, what I did was, the person who made the statement they didn't ask a question. And after they made a statement, I said, 'So?' expecting a question and I didn't get a question. And I took 'So' to mean that I didn't have any concern for public opinion. I do."
No, he doesn't.
Rhonda Chriss Lokeman ([email protected]) is a contributing editor to The Kansas City Star. To find out more about Rhonda Chriss Lokeman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.