For the first time in three years Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday, going head-to-head with Tim Russert. Questions ranged from WMDs, to detentions, to the lack of any "robust congressional hearings," Russert never letting Cheney duck for cover. The VP again and again reverted to his predictable position, that America is safer because we are in Iraq, because we are detaining terrorists, and that he would do it all over again if he had the chance.
Five years since the start of the War on Terror, Russert strung together a litany of clips since where Cheney, in dire-dictator mode, asserted what are now known to be, if not lies, then woeful inaccuracies.
Russert showed the now infamous clip from August 26, 2002 where Cheney says: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." (To which Cheney makes no humble apology.)
Russert follows the clip by asking the VP about the new Select Committee on Intelligence report (released on Friday, of course), which reveals that "U.S. intelligence analysts were strongly disputing the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda while senior Bush administration officials were publicly asserting those links to justify invading Iraq."
Cheney said he hasn't read the report. And that's okay, that he skips out on his reading from intelligence analysts?
Instead, maybe Cheney should have prepped for the session reviewing film like athletes do-- records of his former gaffs that continued to appear. Four days before the war began, March 16, 2003, on Meet the Press:
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Now, 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 a--significant American casualties?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don't, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.
Cheney also skirted the Prague question, yet again, the supposed meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi officials that Cheney dangled over and over, it turns out without evidence, as the link between Iraq and al Qaeda. Yesterday he still refused to say it didn't happen, saying "nobody's been able to confirm it." I mean, no one has been able to confirm that Cheney wasn't aiming for Harry Whittington's face with that spray of birdshot either.
And in regards to the invasion of Baghdad, Cheney insists that even in the face of intelligence failures now known: "It was the right thing to do and if we had it to do over again, we'd do exactly the same thing."
Oh, and Russert, asked about hunting too; whether Cheney has hung up his rifle. When he said no, that he would continue to hunt, Russert asked:
MR. RUSSERT: "Should I be relieved you didn't bring your shotgun in today?"
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I wouldn't worry about it. You're not in season.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Vice President, I hope I never am.