Dick Cheney gave what sounds like an excellent speech today in defense of the Administration’s Iraq policy, based on this account in the Boston Globe:
“‘Had the Bush administration not acted, Saddam and his sons would still be in power, torture chambers would still exist, mass graves would still be undiscovered, terrorists would still have a safe haven in Iraq and Saddam would still have vast wealth to finance weapons programs,’ he said.
“Cheney quoted from an intelligence report that said: ‘We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction program in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Iraq has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions. If left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.’
”’Those charged with the security of this nation could not read such an assessment and pretend that it did not exist. Ignoring such information or trying to wish it away, would be irresponsible in the extreme and our president did not ignore that information,’ Cheney said.”
Of course, a speech by a member of the Administration can’t be reported on without editorializing, lest readers be misled: “Bush, his top aides and GOP congressional leaders have been aggressively trying to counter embarrassing questions about prewar intelligence and the performance of Bush’s national security team….That effort has been hampered by an ever-changing White House story from first blaming the CIA and then the British to new revelations by Stephen Hadley, deputy national security adviser, that contradict earlier statements by his boss, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.”
Joe Lieberman’s candidacy, meanwhile, seems to be sinking as his Democratic rivals become increasingly shrill in their denunciations of the Administration. Today he took them to task for their reflexive antiwar stance:
“I don’t believe the American people are going to elect for president in 2004, post 9/11, in an unsettled world, a candidate who has been opposed to the use of military power against a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein.”
Which poses the issue for Democratic voters pretty starkly.
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