Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Did we touch a nerve?

Judging from the vitriolic and increasingly hysterical response, I think it's safe to say that we've got Mark's attention. I'm glad to hear it because I'd like to take the opportunity as I see Victor already has to document his latest foray into full-blown Bush Derangement Syndrome, complete with all the hyperbolic rhetoric that one might expect from the Daily Kos.

Shea cites the following statement that has been repeated ad nauseam as evidence that Cheney used his evil mind control powers to convince the American people that there was a link between Iraq and 9/11 and then lied about it.
"It's been pretty well confirmed that [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attacks," he would say on NBC in December 2001. "We discovered...the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague," he would say on NBC in March 2002. "We have reporting that places [Atta] in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer a few months before the attacks on the World Trade Center," he would say on NBC in September 2002. "The senator has got his facts wrong," he would then say while debating Senator John Edwards during the 2004 campaign. "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

Yet as dutifully noted by Tom Connelly in the combox, the facts are a lot more interesting as to what Cheney actually said:
From the Meet the Press transcript of December 9, 2001.
RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iraq. When you were last on this program, September 16, five days after the attack on our country, I asked you whether there was any evidence that Iraq was involved in the attack and you said no.
Since that time, a couple of articles have appeared which I want to get you to react to. The first: The Czech interior minister said today that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with Mohammed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the September 11 terrorists attacks on the United States, just five months before the synchronized hijackings and mass killings were carried out.
And this from James Woolsey, former CIA director: ``We know that at Salman Pak, in the southern edge of Baghdad, five different eye witnesses--three Iraqi defectors and two American U.N. inspectors--have said, and now there are aerial photographs to show it, a Boeing 707 that was used for training of hijackers, including non-Iraqi hijackers, trained very secretly to take over airplanes with knives.''
And we have photographs. As you can see that little white speck, and there it is.
RUSSERT: The plane on the ground in Iraq used to train non-Iraqi hijackers.
Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?
CHENEY: Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that's been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.
Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don't know at this point. But that's clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.
RUSSERT: What we do know is that Iraq is harboring terrorists. This was from Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post that George W. Bush said that Abdul Ramini Yazen (ph), who helped bomb the World Trade Center back in 1993, according to Louis Freeh was hiding in his native Iraq. And we'll show that right there on the screen. That's an exact quote.
If they're harboring terrorist, why not go in and get them?
CHENEY: Well, the evidence is pretty conclusive that the Iraqis have indeed harbored terrorists. That wasn't the question you asked the last time we met. You asked about evidence involved in September 11.

And in 2002:
From the "Meet the Press" transcript of March 24, 2002.
MR. RUSSERT: Iraq's Saddam Hussein--when we spoke on September 16, five days after the tragic day of September 11, I asked you if any evidence of linkage between Saddam Hussein and Iraq and al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. At the time you said no. There's an article in The New Yorker magazine by Jeffrey Goldberg which connects Iraq and Saddam Hussein with al-Qaida. What can you tell me about it?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I've read the article. It's a devastating article I thought. Specifically, its description of what happened in 1988 when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds in northern Iraq, against some his own people. I was aware that he had used chemical weapons against the Kurds. That's been general knowledge, but what the article is very good at is pointing it out in depth that he may have struck, if the article's correct, as many as 200 towns and villages over a 17-month period of time and killed upwards of 100,000 Iraqis.
What's even more depressing is the apparent medical legacy that's left of continuing increased rates of infertility, birth defects, rates of liver cancer among children, etc., as a result of these attacks. It demonstrates conclusively what a lot of us have said is, that this is a man who is a great danger to the region of the world, especially if he's able to acquire nuclear weapons.
With respect to the connections to al-Qaida, we haven't been able to pin down any connection there. I read this report with interest after our interview last fall. We discovered, and it's since been public, the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, but we've not been able yet from our perspective to nail down a close tie between the al-Qaida organization and Saddam Hussein. We'll continue to look for it.
From the September 8, 2002 transcript of "Meet the Press":
Mr. RUSSERT: One year ago when you were on MEET THE PRESS just five days after September 11, I asked you a specific question about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Let’s watch:
(Videotape, September 16, 2001):
Mr. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?
(End videotape)
Mr. RUSSERT: Has anything changed, in your mind?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I want to be very careful about how I say this. I’m not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can’t say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. We’ve seen in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center. The debates about, you know, was he there or wasn’t he there, again, it’s the intelligence business.
Mr. RUSSERT: What does the CIA say about that and the president?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: It’s credible. But, you know, I think a way to put it would be it’s unconfirmed at this point. We’ve got...
Mr. RUSSERT: Anything else?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: There is-again, I want to separate out 9/11, from the other relationships between Iraq and the al-Qaeda organization. But there is a pattern of relationships going back many years. And in terms of exchanges and in terms of people, we’ve had recently since the operations in Afghanistan-we’ve seen al-Qaeda members operating physically in Iraq and off the territory of Iraq. We know that Saddam Hussein has, over the years, been one of the top state sponsors of terrorism for nearly 20 years. We’ve had this recent weird incident where the head of the Abu Nidal organization, one of the world’s most noted terrorists, was killed in Baghdad. The announcement was made by the head of Iraqi intelligence. The initial announcement said he’d shot himself. When they dug into that, though, he’d shot himself four times in the head. And speculation has been, that, in fact, somehow, the Iraqi government or Saddam Hussein had him eliminated to avoid potential embarrassment by virtue of the fact that he was in Baghdad and operated in Baghdad. So it’s a very complex picture to try to sort out.

Mr. RUSSERT: But no direct link?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I can’t-I’ll leave it right where it’s at. I don’t want to go beyond that. I’ve tried to be cautious and restrained in my comments, and I hope that everybody will recognize that.

The reason I post these in full is because I want people to see just how much of a bogus accusation this is for anyone who actually reads the transcripts instead of the sound bytes. Personally, I'm not sure why the Democrats have focused on this issue so much given that numerous pundits and talk radio hosts did cite Salman Pak et al. as evidence of an Iraqi link to 9/11, just as they (and Mark) claimed from 2002 onwards that bin Laden was dead and that the administration was refraining from announcing anything to keep the Democrats from forcing an early end to the war on terrorism.

The reason I want to drive this example home is that Mark's frequent accusation for his critics on the right is that they have sold out their judgment and objectivity (and in the case of torture, their faith) to the political right in favor of pure tribalism. In a number of cases this is almost certainly true, but if he's going to keep making the kind of hyperbolic generalizations (if not outright slanders) about anyone who continues to support the administration, the war in Iraq, or refuses to defer to Mark's interpretation to the Catechism, he needs to be reminded that the sword cuts both ways and that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

As Kosh wisely noted, understanding is a three-edged sword: their side, your side, and the truth. The sooner Mark recognizes that this applies to him every bit as much as it does between the triangulation argument tactic he's so fond of the better.

Anyone care to wager if he'll even bother to make an apology both to Cheney and to all of his supporters he so clumsily skewed?

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