Travels with Cheney

Our friend Steve Hayes has been on the road with Vice President Cheney in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The new issue of the Standard carries Steve’s long report: “Travels with Cheney.” On the matter of the Bush adminstration’s defense of its policy in Iraq and related documents that Steve has been urging the administration to release, Steve writes:

[I]t appears the Bush administration will continue to make the case aggressively that Americans are better off because of its conduct of national security policy, including the Iraq war.

That effort will likely include the release of documents and other materials captured in postwar Iraq. In recent weeks, senior Bush administration and intelligence officials have been discussing several plans to expedite the public release of those materials. According to officials familiar with their contents, the documents provide an unfiltered look inside a criminal regime that brutalized its own citizens, bought off numerous European politicians, and provided significant support to transregional terrorists.

Steve also reports on the vice president’s meeting with the troops, and much more, including this:

Cheney ended [his interview with the AP's Nedra Pickler on the flight home] with what may be the most forceful on-the-record defense of Bush administration national security policy yet. The vice president said it is this policy–not luck or fate–that explains why the United States has not been attacked in the last four years.

There’s a temptation for people to sit around and say, well, gee, [9/11] was just a one-off affair, they didn’t really mean it. Bottom line is, we’ve been very active and very aggressive defending the nation and using the tools at our disposal to do that. That ranges from everything to going into Afghanistan and closing down the terrorist camps, rounding up al Qaeda wherever we can find them in the world, to an active robust intelligence program, putting out rewards, the capture of bad guys, and the Patriot Act…Either we’re serious about fighting the war on terror or we’re not. Either we believe that there are individuals out there doing everything they can to try to launch more attacks, to try to get ever deadlier weapons to use against [us], or we don’t. The president and I believe very deeply that there’s a hell of a threat, that it’s there for anybody who wants to look at it. And that our obligation and responsibility, given our job, is to do everything in our power to defeat the terrorists. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

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