MIAMI - Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Thursday that a finding by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's government produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war.
The report shows that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option," Cheney told a town hall-style meeting.
While Democrats pointed to the new report by Charles Duelfer to bolster their case that invading Iraq was a mistake, Cheney focused on portions that were more favorable to the administration's case.
"The headlines all say no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Baghdad. We already knew that," Cheney said.
He said other parts of the report were "more intriguing."
Cheney's comments reflect a GOP strategy to use portions of the report, including abuses of Iraq's "fuel for food" program, to try to move discussion away from the central conclusions on the absence of weapons of mass destruction.
Although the report says Saddam's weapons program had deteriorated since the 1991 Gulf War and did not pose a threat to the world in 2003, it also says Saddam's main goal was the removal of international sanctions.
"As soon as the sanctions were lifted he had every intention of going back" to his weapons program, Cheney said. . . .
Thus there was no reason to wait to invade Iraq to give inspectors more time to do their work, Cheney said. . . .
So - just to get this completely straight. Saddam was trying to . . . change the law? He wasn't going to recreate his program in spite of the sanctions, he was just going to work tirelessly for their removal and then develop them to protect himself - as he saw it - from his nearest regional nemeses? And I love that the lack of existing WMD is now old news that doesn't really deserve any comment since "we already knew that." Mr. Vice President, you do get the whole timeline thing here, right?
If Saddam was working to end the sanctions so he could restart his weapons programs, couldn't big, powerful, whole-world-loves-US-circa-2001 USA have convinced the international community to stand up for the sanctions? If he was waiting for there to be no sanctions so he could arm himself, doesn't that mean the sanctions were working?
Why is Cheney allowed to get away with this stuff? Hello - people, come on. This doesn't even pass the laugh test.